The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will make $6 million in grants available this year, and up to $30 million total over the next five years as part of a new initiative to provide solutions to agricultural water challenges. The grants will be used to develop management practices, technologies, and tools for farmers, ranchers, forest owners, and citizens to improve water resource quantity and quality.

NIFA has identified three critical topics that will be funded through this new research challenge area: 1) ensuring the water security of surface and ground water needed to produce agricultural goods and services; 2) improving nutrient management in agricultural landscapes focused on nitrogen and phosphorous; and 3) reducing impacts of chemicals and the presence and movement of environmental pathogens in the nation’s water supply.

NIFA expects to make $30 million available over the next 5 years through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) water challenge area. Building on its investment in water research, NIFA also will fund projects through the National Integrated Water Quality Program (NIWQP). The request for application for this program is expected to be released in spring 2014.