Abstract collage of science-related imagery

Signals in the Soil (SitS)

Status: Archived

Archived funding opportunity

This document has been archived. See NSF 22-550 for the latest version.

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.


In 1935, Franklin D. Roosevelt stated, “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself." This statement remains true to this day. Soil forms over thousands of years and can be destroyed in a single event. It is a natural asset, alongside water and air, but is often overlooked, despite being the foundation of terrestrial ecosystems that support food production, economic prosperity, and services that are essential for humanity. Soils are complex living ecosystems containing billions of organisms that mediate a myriad of biological, chemical, and physical processes, interacting to cycle carbon and nutrients essential for plant growth, food and fiber production, and to remove contaminants from water. Soil is also the foundation material for all structures not supported on rock, and, by orders of magnitude, is the most widely-used construction material in the world. Soil ecosystems supply most of the antibiotics used to fight human diseases, control the movement of water and chemical substances between the Earth and atmosphere, and act as source and storage media for gases important to life, such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, and methane. Thus, as the Earth’s population grows, we need a better understanding of soil ecosystems that will continue to play a critical role in feeding the world.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorates for Engineering (ENG) and Geosciences (GEO), the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems in the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO/IOS), and the Division of Computer and Network Systems in the Directorate Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE/CNS), in collaboration with the US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) of United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) encourage convergent research that transforms existing capabilities in understanding dynamic, near-surface soil processes through advances in sensor systems and modeling. To accomplish this research, multiple disciplines must converge to produce novel sensors and/or sensing systems of multiple modalities that are adaptable to different environments and collect data and report on a wide range of chemical, biological and physical parameters. This type of approach will also be necessary to develop next generation soil models, wireless communication and cyber systems capabilities, and to grow a scientific community that is able to address complex problems through education and outreach. This program fosters collaboration among the partner agencies and the researchers they support by combining resources and funding for the most innovative and high-impact projects that address their respective missions.

Program contacts

All questions regarding proposal submissions should be directed to Sitsquestions@nsf.gov.

Brandi L. Schottel
bschotte@nsf.gov (703) 292-4798 ENG/OAD
James W. Jones
jwjones@nsf.gov (703) 292-4458
Enriqueta C. Barrera
ebarrera@nsf.gov (703) 292-7780
Ann C. Von Lehmen
avonlehm@nsf.gov (703) 292-4756 CISE/CNS
Irwin N. Forseth
iforseth@nsf.gov (703)292-7862 BIO/IOS
Nancy Cavallaro
National Program Leader
ncavallaro@nifa.usda.gov (202) 401-5176 National Institute of Food and Agriculture

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