Launch of Signals in the Soil (SitS) Programme

The Signals in the Soil (SitS) initiative is a new international programme between UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Collaborators also include the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) (UK scheme administrator), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

Soil forms over thousands of years and can be destroyed in a single event. It is a natural asset, alongside water and air, but is often overlooked, despite being the foundation of terrestrial ecosystems that support food production, economic prosperity and services that are essential for humanity. As the Earth’s population grows, a better understanding of soil ecosystems is needed.

SitS encourages convergent research that transforms existing capabilities in understanding dynamic, near-surface soil processes through advances in sensor systems and modelling. To accomplish this research, multiple disciplines must converge to produce novel sensors and/or sensing systems of multiple modalities that are adaptable to different environments and collect data and report on a wide range of chemical, biological and physical parameters.

This type of approach will also be necessary to develop next generation soil models, wireless communication and cyber systems capabilities, and to grow a scientific community that is able to address complex problems through education and outreach. The programme will foster collaboration among the partner agencies and the researchers they support by combining resources and funding for the most innovative and high-impact projects that address their respective missions.

Each proposal must have at least one eligible collaborator from the US and one eligible collaborator from the UK. The Lead PI must be a US-eligible collaborator. Only US collaborators can be listed as a PI or a co-PI. The UK collaborator(s) must be listed as non-funded Senior Personnel.

Normal UKRI (NERC) eligibility rules apply for UK-based team members, ie must be resident in the UK and be employed by an eligible UK Research Organisation (Higher Education Institution, Research Council Institute or a recognised Independent Research Organisation).

The total amount available is $5,600,000 (for US projects) and £8,000,000 (for UK projects). Projects can request three years of support with a total budget less than or equal to $800,000 per project for the US portion, and three years of support with a total budget less than or equal to £800,000 (at 80% full economic costs/FEC) per project for the UK portion.

Applications (full proposals) must be submitted by the US lead collaborator by the deadline of 15 May 2019.

More information about this research funding opportunity and the application process is available on the RESEARCHconnect funding information platform. RESEARCHconnect provides up-to-the minute content, insight and analysis on research funding news and policy. To find out more about how RESEARCHconnect can keep you in the know, and subscription fees, contact us today.