Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council Opens 2023 RFP

Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council Opens 2023 RFP


By: Shani Golovay | NREC Research Manager

We are pleased to announce the solicitation of projects for the crop year 2023 for the Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council (NREC). 

NREC’s priority is funding projects that advance the science of products and practices that increase the efficiency of nitrogen and phosphorus use while maintaining productivity goals. It is expected that the results of such projects will be shared with other scientists by publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals. NREC also expects the results to be widely distributed to farmers and crop advisors via meetings, news releases, and electronic media in a manner that effectively promotes and assures implementation of the derived conclusions or best management practices.

NREC is looking for research projects that achieve a new level of understanding of improved agronomic nutrient and conservation practices by producing results showing how applying a systems approach to nutrient management impacts nutrient use efficiency, farm economics, and nutrient losses. A multidisciplinary, multiple site system of practices is needed to produce recommendations that are practical and implementable on farms throughout Illinois. Therefore, priority will be given to those projects that demonstrate a multidisciplinary approach and collaborate with researchers from other universities or entities.

Under NREC’s new funding cycle, it is expected that any project proposed with cover crops, fall nutrient applications or other fall treatment be initiated the year funding is awarded. With this in mind, site identification, cooperators, equipment, and other needs must be complete when submitted.


Economic Cost/Benefit Analysis

Feedback from farmers in Illinois consistently shows that a major hurdle in the adoption of conservation practices is the lack of economic information. To that point, we are looking for research proposals that include an annual economic analysis OR a stand-alone project that utilizes data from other NREC-funded projects in order to conduct the economic analysis.

For 2023, NREC is focusing on the following key areas of investigation that farmers and other key stakeholders have identified as needed based upon the goals outlined in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. While much of NREC’s current research has been focused on nitrogen and phosphorus, the Council recognizes that other nutrients play a role in crop nutrition and is open to research projects that look beyond these two primary nutrients.

  1. Continue studies testing the impact of N management systems on efficiency of N use.
    • Evaluate the efficacy of combinations of (4R’s) source, place, rate and time of application on N efficiency
    • Synergistic approaches to 4R’s including utilization of macro/micronutrients to improve N efficiency
  1. Cover crop systems: Evaluate the economics, feasibility, water quality impacts and best management practices of growing cover crops to address nitrogen and phosphorus loss as well as crop productivity. Proposals should address all aspects of cover crops from crop selection, seeding and grazing through crop termination and subsequent mineralization and nutrient release.
    • Regionalized distribution of research into cover crop systems following soybeans and ahead of corn to maximize corn production and minimize nutrient losses
    • Cover crop options beyond cereal rye
    • Addition of wheat or other cash crop to corn/soybean rotation to increase nutrient utilization
    • Nitrous oxide emissions from cover crop systems
  1. Technical assistance to educate on the agronomic and environmental benefits of reduced tillage/strip till/erosion control and the placement, timing and rate of nutrient applications throughout the entire state.
  2. Phosphorus: Continue studies testing the impact of phosphorus management systems on efficient phosphorus usage, the role of legacy phosphorus both in agricultural production lands and streambanks and streambeds, as well as placement and timing of phosphorus applications in corn and wheat.
  3. Research proposals that go beyond the “known” into more innovative (novel, inventive, original) and forward-looking research. This could include edge-of-field practices, new technologies, modeling, unique partnerships, etc.

NREC is currently funding 31 projects and many of these will be considered for continued funding in 2023. You can view a summary of these projects and the 2020 Annual Report at A review of the current projects will provide insights into the types of projects that are typically funded by NREC and will allow applicants to avoid duplication of projects already underway.


Proposal Guidelines

Please submit your proposals in PDF format via email to Shani Golovay, NREC Research Manager, at by May 13th. The NREC Council will consider the proposals and in August 2022 will announce which projects will receive NREC funding in the 2022/2023 crop year.

RFP Application

Outline for submitting a project to NREC

Standard Proposal Cover Sheet

Project Budget Template

Proposals must be limited to 10 pages total and the synopsis to one page. You can modify the budget template accordingly to best reflect your project’s unique or specific budget items. Please be succinct but descriptive with your project titles and include an email and telephone number where the lead investigator can be reached.


If you have questions, please contact Shani Golovay | |618-593-9229

Thank you for your interest in NREC and helping us pursue research and educational projects to advance Illinois agriculture and protect our natural resources.

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