Field Work FAQs | LOR Foundation

Field Work FAQs

LOR’s Field Work initiative will provide 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 in the face of unprecedented drought. The hope is that this real-world research will reveal solutions that can be used throughout the West to grow food while contending with an ever-dwindling water supply. 

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 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. 

Projects must be completed in 2023 and must include a commitment and plan for reporting learnings. Learnings must be reported by Dec. 31, 2023. 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).

LOR aims to explore a diversity of project types across our region, so location and project type will be taken into consideration during the review process. 

What qualifies a project as innovative?

While innovation isn’t the only factor we consider while reviewing projects, it is an important one. We recognize that innovation can happen in a number of ways and are hoping to learn from a wide variety of projects that range from entirely new technologies, products, and practices to expanding or tweaking an existing approach for a new purpose, in a new place, or potentially to provide additional community benefit. 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.
  • An opportunity to expand: I currently use this practice/ technology, and I want to see if it works at a larger scale.
  • Uncommon in my area: This practice/technology is not generally used in this area, and I want to be among the first to try it here.

How do I apply?

Visit beginning February 1 to submit a potential project. We will accept applications through February 22. We will evaluate all applications before making a final decision about any proposal. We will notify applicants by March 15.  

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. 

How are successful applicants paid? 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 at the beginning of the project (checks will be mailed by May 1) and half upon completion of a status report that is due by September 1. Second checks will be mailed within 30 days of completion of the status report.