Request for Research Proposals

Each year the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) seeks soybean research proposals for funding. The ISA Board will fund research projects that address their goals to increase soybean farmer competitiveness, especially through increased productivity and profitability while improving sustainability.

ISA will fund both applied and basic research, as well as Extension & Outreach, that will provide short- and long-term practical benefits to Iowa’s soybean farmers. 

Key Areas of Research

Projects should logically fit into one of these broad areas:

  • Soybean germplasm discovery and improvement, especially focused on yield, seed quality and yield preservation. e.g. (Soybean breeding to increase genetic yield potential and the introgression of defensive traits.
  • Soybean disease, nematode, insect pest and abiotic stress biology, management, and yield loss mitigation.
  • Weed management within the soybean cropping system.
  • Soybean production with improved nutrient management and water quality.
  • Soybean cropping system production practices, agronomics and management to enhance productivity, profitability and sustainability including digital agriculture, new technologies and modeling for research and production.

Important Dates

Upcoming fiscal year (FY25) timeline. Current fiscal year (FY24) closed.

   March 11, 2024 Request for proposal distributed
   May 6, 2024 Proposals due to ISA by the end of the business day
   June 21, 2024 ISA Board review and funding decisions
   Oct. 1, 2024 - Sept. 30, 2025 FY25 funding cycle


Request Letter

Allowed/Not Allowed Funding

Cover Sheet

Proposal Template

Budget Summary Spreadsheet

How To Structure The Proposal

Research proposals are expected to be concise (approx. 5 pages in total length, excluding budget pages) and contain the following (see attached):

  • Cover sheet (provided): proposal overview and budget
  • Contact Information: Name, address phone number, and email address of principal investigator and collaborators
  • Project title
  • Brief project justification and rationale:  Identified research need, brief review of similar academic and industry research and how proposed research is necessary, novel and will benefit farmers and the soybean industry. 
  • Brief description of proposed research:  Research and communications to be done, purpose, expected outcomes, contribution to project goals, clear statement of communication and outreach strategies. 
  • Other funding: Proposed research may complement and extend but must not duplicate already funded research.  Where applicable, a concise listing of related research and funding sources for the PI and collaborators, and a brief description of how this check-off funded research will be used to attract or complement additional funding support (public and private: e.g. USB, QSSB, USDA, company) to extend knowledge or expand research breadth and depth, especially in cases where basic research funding is requested.
  • Clear and concise set of project metrics, economic impact on soybean farmers, and performance measures, milestones and deliverables, including:
    • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or performance metrics and how those will be measured
    • An analysis and/or description of program/project economic impact, significance to soybean farmers, and return on the soybean checkoff investment
    • Timelines and milestones for deliverables that will extend the state-of-the-art of basic and farmer-focused applied research
    • Communication plan to include farmer-focused publications, field days and similar as well as updates to the National Soybean Checkoff Research Database.
  • Clear description of a cost-efficient budget, sub-budgeted to projects within programs. A budget for years 2 and 3 is requested for multi-year concept projects.

It is critically important for researchers to identify how the deliverables will positively and tangibly impact Iowa soybean growers in the short- or long-term, and how deliverables will be communicated to growers and to the ISA. Budgets should include funding for publishing and broadly communicating results, and convening meetings if planned.  Researchers should reference first year deliverables when justifying multi-year projects and requests for project renewals, as continued funding will be determined by the demonstration of real, meaningful and applicable first-year or second-year results.  Researchers are strongly encouraged to demonstrate interdisciplinary approaches and collaborations or synergies with other institutions and/or with ISA Research teams when/if appropriate.

Allowed/Non-Allowed Funding

Statement of allowed and non-allowed contract funding items and categories for soybean check-off compliance purposes.


  • MS and PhD graduate student salaries and benefits for ISA and NCSRP funded projects

  • MS and PhD graduate student tuition when the student is working on a funded soybean project and there is a documented (i.e. requires a statement that the tuition is for a soybean-specific field of study (e.g. to be included in semi-annual and final progress reports for documentation purposes), direct correlation of his/her coursework program and research work to soybeans.  This must be stated / documented in the research project proposal and tuition must be paid back if the student does not complete his/her program on the soybean project.

  • Postdoctoral research personnel salaries and benefits if working on the soybean project being funded and not the principal investigator (PI)

  • Non-tenure-track research professor salaries and benefits if working on the soybean project being funded and not the principal investigator (PI)

  • Technical staff (lab and field technicians) salaries and benefits.  Only the portions that correlate to the work that they are doing for the soybean project being funded

  • Project-specific materials, supplies and small expendable/disposable equipment (usually less than $3,000).  Disposable equipment must be defined in the project proposal

  • Sub-contracts with collaborators, but subject to the same allowable and non-allowable funding categories and criteria as primary PI and team

  • Space and facility rental (lab and field) for the funded project

  • Domestic travel specific to the funded project

  • Project-specific publications and communications – including print and electronic

  • Meetings, registrations, accommodations, meals for funded project-related business

  • Field days and communication and outreach activities related to the funded project

  • Project-specific research team travel and meetings at a central location, including facility rental, food, AV equipment


  • Tenured or tenure-track faculty salaries and benefits (PI and/or Co-PI)

  • Large/capital/durable/depreciable equipment (usually, but not necessarily >$3,000)

  • International travel

  • Indirect costs and Overhead of any type or amount

  • Computers