Soil Science Challenge

What is the Soil Science Challenge?

The Soil Science Challenge is a competitive grant opportunity aimed at research organisations, with new projects that add to Australia’s soil health knowledge and address one of the following research priorities:

  • Soil carbon dynamics
  • Soil hydrology
  • Soil biology and nutrients
  • Soil/root interface



The Soil Science Challenge is part of the Australian Government’s commitment to a $214.9 million National Soil Package to implement the National Soil Strategy. The National Soil Strategy sets out how Australia will value, manage and improve its soil for the next 20 years. The strategy prioritises soil health, empowers soil innovation and stewards, and strengthens soil knowledge and capability. For more information about the National Soil Package and the National Soil Strategy visit the National Soil Package website. 



The objectives of the Soil Science Challenge are to:

  • support research to address priority gaps in the current soil-related science knowledge base; those findings are to be provided for peer review and should be prepared in a manner suitable for publishing
  • support research that contributes to the knowledge base necessary to achieve the goals of the National Soil Strategy
  • provide Australia, including industry, farmers and other land managers, with new and improved soil science to influence soil health, leading to improved productivity, profitability, resilience and to assist in mitigating climate change.



The Australian Government has announced a total of $20 million (GST exclusive) for the program, with $5 million (GST exclusive) available each year for 4 years, commencing in 2021–22.

This grant opportunity will run from 24 November 2021 to 14 February 2022. You may apply for total funding within the following range:

  • the minimum total grant amount is $500,000 (GST exclusive).
  • the maximum total grant amount is $5,000,000 (GST exclusive).


Eligible Projects

In addition to meeting the eligibility criteria above, your project must address the program objectives and at least one of the grant program outcomes (refer to section 2.2 above). You must clearly and explicitly state how your project aligns to these within the application, assessment criteria and associated templates.

You can only spend the grant on eligible expenditure you have incurred in relation to the proposed project. You must incur the expenditure on your project between the activity start date and activity completion date in your grant agreement to be eligible.

Eligible expenditure items include:

  • commissioning of studies and/or trials
  • laboratory or field work
  • data analysis
  • travel where it is directly related to carrying out the project and is considered a reasonable and fair travel expense (for example, economy fare for plane flights and excluding overseas travel)
  • in case of COVID-19 travel restrictions, alternative activities required to successfully carry out the grant activities
  • project administration (for example, report preparations, project planning, equipment resources
    and supplies) up to no more than 10% of the total funding sought
  • salary for staff directly carrying out the grant activities.


Eligible Applicants

To be eligible you must:

  • be a research organisation; a company that fits one or more of the following descriptions: research and development corporation; primary industry and scientific organisation; cooperative research centre; state or territory government; corporate Commonwealth entity; university; or public or private research organisation
  • have an account with an Australian financial institution.

and be one of the following entity types:

  • Indigenous Corporation
  • Company
  • Corporate Commonwealth Entity
  • Commonwealth Company
  • Corporate State or Territory Entity
  • Incorporated Association.



Applications close 14 February 2022.


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