Field Work 2024 FAQs | LOR Foundation

Field Work 2024 FAQs

LOR’s Field Work initiative provides funding for research into innovative approaches to using water in agriculture. Farmers and ranchers in rural parts of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming are eligible for up to $10,000 to implement innovative water projects on their land. Ultimately, we hope this real-world research reveals the best solutions for using water efficiently to grow food and sustain thriving communities in the West while in the grip of desperate drought. In 2024, thanks to the generous support of CoBank, we are fortunate to offer research funding to approximately 10 farmers and ranchers with especially innovative ideas.

Who is eligible?

LOR’s Field Work initiative is open to farmers and ranchers in rural areas and on tribal lands in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Applicants must have independent authority to make changes to water use on the land. Applicants should submit only one project proposal; multiple proposals from a single applicant will not be accepted. If applicants have multiple potential projects, they should reach out to us at for help identifying the best potential project to submit.

What counts as rural?

We will use the USDA’s Rural-Urban Continuum Codes to distinguish urban and rural counties. Generally speaking, counties that are part of metro areas with populations of at least 50,000 are considered urban counties. However, some counties that contain an urban area—or part of one—also have a large agricultural presence, and we will consider applications from farmers and ranchers in these counties. (In those cases, we will ask applicants to describe the rural character of the area where they farm or ranch.) 

Are for-profit farms/ranches allowed to apply?

Yes! We encourage individuals and farms and ranches operating as businesses to apply. This research program is meant to support innovative water projects brought forward by landowners or producers (individuals, businesses, for-profits, or nonprofits who operate on land). 

If there is a compelling reason a nonprofit organization should apply to represent a landowner or producer, and the idea meets the criteria, individuals should contact us directly to discuss the project prior to completing an application.  

What are the criteria for eligible projects?

LOR is looking for innovative projects costing up to $10,000 that improve outcomes in the following areas: water efficiency, water reliability, water quality, crop yield or crop diversification, and labor efficiency. Potential project types might include those addressing water diversion, water storage, water delivery or application, water measurement, land management, groundwater sources, and power. You can see the list of projects the LOR Foundation supported in 2023 here.

Common solutions to regular on-farm or on-ranch challenges will not meet our criteria for innovation. Rather, we are interested in unique, innovative, and novel ideas that answer a compelling research question about what will work to address a water-related challenge. 

Projects must be completed in 2024 and successful applicants must report their learnings at the start of implementation and by the end of the year. Learnings must be reported by Dec. 15, 2024. LOR’s vision for sharing learnings includes sharing them publicly, be that with an on-site visit from neighbors or others in the industry, visiting with a LOR staffer, or contributing learnings in a more conventional manner, such as via a written report. LOR will work with recipients to determine the best method for sharing learnings.

Projects that are ineligible for LOR’s Field Work initiative include: 

  • Projects where more than 50 percent of the budget is allocated for planning, engineering services, or other technical assessments.
  • Projects undertaken by any business that is cultivating, processing, or bringing psychoactive marijuana to market (hemp is allowed).

What do you mean by innovative?

We are most interested in novel, creative, or new ideas to address persistent challenges. These innovations may range from entirely new technologies, products, and practices to highly creative methods for expanding and modifying an existing approach for a new purpose. Below, we’ve included a few ways a project might be considered innovative; if one of these statements is true about your proposed project, it’s likely innovative.

  • Experimental technology or practice: To my knowledge, there is nothing quite like this practice or technology on the market or in use. I want to be the first to see if (and how well) it works.
  • A prototype that improves water use: This practice or technology exists, but I have an idea or a prototype that would modify it in a way that will make it even better.
  • A repurposing: This practice/technology exists, but we don’t know if it will be practical and useful for other purposes, and I want to see if it will work for something new.

How do I apply?

Applications were open from March 20, 2024 through April 10, 2024. We will evaluate all applications before making a final decision about any proposal. We will notify applicants of our decision by April 20.  

To ensure a smooth and fast application process, applicants should be prepared with the following materials/information: 

  • Applicant’s contact information, including name, address (that can accept delivery), website (if applicable), phone number, and email address
  • Business name
  • Physical address of the farm or ranch where the project will be implemented
  • Brief description of the project and how it will be implemented
  • Anticipated budget, costs, and timeline
  • A brief statement about how the project is an innovative solution. 

Please note: The person/organization/business actually completing the application will be the person/entity with whom the LOR Foundation will be contracting. Therefore, the entity/person filling out the application must be the same as the entity/person who will receive the funding and who has the authority to sign the contract.

How are projects funded? And when?

Funding received for Field Work projects is considered taxable income. If a project is accepted, applicants must submit a W-9 with their contract and will be responsible for reporting the income. 

Funding for Field Work research projects will be provided in two parts: Half upon the execution of a funding agreement and half upon completion of a status report that is due by Oct. 1, 2024. Second checks will be mailed within 30 days of completion of the status report.

How can I learn more?

LOR hosted two informational webinars in March (the same content was presented in both webinars). You can view a recording of the webinar using this passcode: %G&0f$rc. You can also schedule a meeting with LOR Foundation staff to discuss your application or proposal.