Proposal Narrative

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Northeast SARE
Outcome Funding and
Grant Writing Workshop
Tom Morris & Janet McAllister
Delaware State University
May 25, 2011
nesare.org
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Proposal Narrative
Includes 4 Subsections:
1.Problem Description
2.Solution and Benefits
3.Beneficiaries
4.Project Approach
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1. What’s the Problem?
There must be a well-defined problem
at the center of all project proposals
The problem section in the narrative must describe:
• The problem and its cause(s) - JUSTIFY with DATA
• Where it occurs, what type of agriculture affected, e.g., type
and number of farms, their ranges of sales or net income,
acreage, herd size, number of employees – JUSTIFY with DATA
• The quantity or value of agriculture affected, e.g. in acres or
dollars, etc.; the cost to environment, social fabric of farm
families/communities – JUSTIFY with DATA
Sources of data: literature citations, work of others, farmer
surveys, Extension surveys, census data, etc.
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Example Problem Statement
Cover crops offer many well-known potential benefits for
maintaining soil health on vegetable farms, including
organic matter enrichment, weed suppression, nutrient
recycling and nitrogen fixation. However, despite significant
investments by Cooperative Extension, NRCS, SARE, and
others to promote their adoption, cover crops are not widely
used by vegetable farmers in New England. The 2007 Ag
Census reports there are over 3,000 vegetable farms with
40,000 acres. A 2009 survey by New England Extension
asked 400 of these farmers, on farms of all sizes, about cover
crop use; only 24 (10%) of the 240 respondents used cover
crops routinely on their farms and only 48 (20%) said they
felt confident about making appropriate cover crop choices
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for their farms.
Example Wording of Results
from Survey completed by PI at
Extension Meeting
A survey completed by the author during an
extension meeting of vegetable farmers about
weed control in February 2010 showed: 30 of 40
farmers completed the survey and only 10% of
the 30 (3 farmers) routinely used cover crops on
their farms and only 20% said they felt confident
selecting appropriate cover crops for their farms.
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Practice Time
• Write an example problem description
• Okay to place a _______ or XX as a
placeholder where you would insert an
important piece of data, such as a XX
acres, or XX dollars, XX farmers
• Okay to place (reference) where you
would include a citation from literature,
census data, farmer or educator surveys,
etc.
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Remember…
Don’t leave reviewers guessing about:
• The problem and its cause(s)
• Where it occurs, what type of agriculture affected
• The quantity or value of agriculture affected
And…Justify with literature citations, work of
others, farmer surveys, Extension surveys,
census data, etc.
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2. What’s the Solution?
Every project must propose a solution;
tell reviewers about it
The solution section in the narrative must describe:
• The solution to the problem
• The benefits expected to farmers from this solution –
JUSTIFY with DATA
• Known or anticipated obstacles or challenges that will
need to be addressed to encourage the adoption of the
recommended solution by farmers
Sources of data: literature citations, work of others,
farmer surveys, Extension surveys, census data, etc.
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Example Solution Description
This project will engage New England vegetable farmers in a
program of education and research about cover crops and
cover cropping innovations that emphasizes the multiple
benefits of cover crops (30 lbs N/acre saved at $0.50 per lb or
$15/acre; legume N additions of up to 120 lbs/acre or
$60/acre; maintenance of soil organic matter). Farmers
currently planting cover crops will teach about the benefits
and challenges of cover crops. Throughout the education and
research program, the top management constraints to cover
crop usage will be addressed, such as timing of seeding,
mowing/killing, establishment, and rotations; on-farm
demonstrations will show how constraints can be overcome,
and a cover crop decision tool will be provided to farmers with
hands-on training in the use of the tool.
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Practice Time
• Write an example Solution description
• Okay to place a _______ or XX as a
placeholder where you would insert an
important piece of data, such as a XX
(number) acres, or XX (number) dollars,
XX (number) farmers
• Okay to place (reference) where you
would include a citation from literature,
census data, farmer or educator surveys,
etc.
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Remember to…
Explain for reviewers:
• The solution to the problem
• The benefits expected for farmers
• Known or anticipated obstacles or challenges the
project will address
And…Justify where appropriate with literature
citations, work of others, farmer surveys,
Extension surveys, census data, etc.
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3. Who will Benefit from the Solution?
Every project must have a defined target
audience who will benefit from the project
The Beneficiaries:
• Participate and Learn throughout the milestones
• Then take action to achieve the performance target
• Must be engaged early and supported throughout
• Vary according to type of grant:
– R&E beneficiaries are farmers
– PDP beneficiaries are agricultural service
providers who teach farmers
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The Beneficiaries, cont.
The beneficiary section in the narrative must
describe:
• Number and type of farmers (R&E) or Ag service
providers (PDP) who will engage as participants
• Their interest in solving problem and willingness to
participate in project
• Two example beneficiary profiles
Use data from surveys to demonstrate interest by
farmers or Ag service providers
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Example Beneficiary Description R&E
The primary beneficiaries will be 50 commercial
vegetable farmers in VT, MA, CT and RI who operate
farms of all sizes, from 5 to 500 acres, as the benefits of
cover cropping apply to farms of all scales, and most of
the technology employed will be relatively scale neutral.
Interest in cover crop education among the region’s
vegetable farmers is high, as evidenced by the 2009
survey of 400 vegetable farmers in New England, which
included farms of all sizes. 180 (75%) of the 240 farmers
who responded expressed an interest in learning more
about cover crops and how to integrate cover crops into
their vegetable production systems.
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Example Beneficiary Profiles R&E
David operates a 140-acre diversified vegetable
farm. He is conscious of the compaction that
results from his frequent tillage operation and is
aware of how cover crops could improve his soil
health and condition. Although not an organic
grower, David strives to use only the amounts of
fertilizer and pest control chemicals necessary.
Finding a legume cover crop, or crops, that could
reduce his nitrogen fertilizer usage, and at the
same time improve his soil condition would be a
win-win scenario for David, but he is not sure of
what cover crop species to try, and what is the
best time and place to introduce a cover crop
into his rotations.
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Example Beneficiary Profiles R&E
Sarah is a small-scale organic vegetable grower
who makes her living from her 6-acre farm. She
has exceeded the P limit of her soils by applying
too much compost and now obtains most of her
nitrogen from other sources, primarily organic
fertilizers. However, the cost for organic nitrogen
fertilizer is high and incorporating a legume cover
crop in rotations to provide nitrogen is an
attractive strategy for her. But Sarah’s land base
is limited and she cannot afford to have long
fallow periods in her production fields. Sarah is
interested in testing some new legume species
that might fill niches in her rotations and allow her
to take advantage of their benefits.
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4. What Approach Will You Use?
The project approach must be capable of leading
beneficiaries to the desired change
The project approach section in the narrative
must describe:
• Steps for recruiting and initial engagement of
participants
• Education topics to be taught – what knowledge,
skills do beneficiaries need to learn
• Educational delivery methods, types of activities,
sequence
• Support mechanisms for beneficiaries as they learn
and take action
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Approach: Summary of Milestones
• Paragraph introducing educational program
• Must be consistent with Milestones
• Must be consistent with budget
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Projects with Research
The Approach must include:
• How findings from research will be integrated into
education program
Include as attachments:
• Detailed research plan with treatments,
experimental design, data to be collected, etc.
• Plot plans, flow charts, diagrams, etc.
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Example Approach Description
After gauging the current knowledge, practices, and
desired benefits of cover crops among vegetable farmers,
we will offer webinars to increase participants
understanding of cover cropping options and the goals of
the project. Lead farmers will establish on-farm
demonstrations; research trials will be set up at three
University farms that will complement the on-farm
demonstrations; workshops will be held at all sites for
participants to learn best practices and identify cover
crops that will work on their farms. Farmers will receive
templates for data collection. Winter meetings, webinars,
short videos, and project team site visits over two years
will support adoption and adjustment of cover crop
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practices.
Questions?
www.nesare.org
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