On the first day I started Extension nearly 15 years ago, I met two other Extension Educators and a farmer in a Clay County farmer’s field. The farmer was cooperating with us in an on-farm research project. It was great for me to see farmers answering their own questions by partnering with Extension to conduct field-scale, replicated research on their own farms. It also became a key tool for me to learn via field observations and build relationships with growers.
Any of you who know me know on-farm research is something in which I’m pretty passionate! The reason? You’re all going to meetings and reading information regarding various practices/products and you may wonder if any of those things will work on your farm. You may try various tests on your own, which can provide some information. But because fields are so variable, scientific tests can’t be conducted by just splitting fields in half or without true randomization and replication. Another reason I believe in on-farm research is because we answer much with minimal money invested! I think of numerous studies our farmers have partnered with us in which University faculty wouldn’t have been able to obtain grants because they were too applied. However, in farmers utilizing their equipment on their own ground partnering with Extension to collect and analyze data, we’ve been able to conduct these studies with minimal cost other than some additional time and travel to fields. We’ve tested numerous products including soybean inoculants, growth promoters, soil health, and nutrient management ones. We’ve tested various practices such as populations, planting dates, planting depths, nutrient timing, cover crops, and much more. A good portion of our results can be found at http://resultsfinder.unl.edu. That site is still missing the first 15-20 years of Greater Quad County on-farm research studies, but everything is there from 2010 on. (I hope to one day help get the rest added).
I’m so grateful for all of our on-farm research cooperators-especially to all of you who have worked with me-for your investment of time and trust in partnering! We can’t do this without you! And, I hope more growers consider partnering with us in on-farm research in the future!
On-Farm Research Updates: Next week will be our Nebraska On-Farm Research updates. It’s an opportunity to hear from the growers themselves who conducted studies in 2018 regarding why they chose their studies, how they conducted them, and what their plans are for the future. I really enjoy these meetings and learning from the discussions! While many of the studies may show there’s no differences, those are still answers to specific questions! Research projects include: cover crops, variable rate seeding, planting populations, starter fertilizer, fungicide applications, alternate crop rotations, seed treatments, and sidedress nitrogen management technologies including drone and sensor-based, variable-rate nitrogen management. Certified Crop Advisor Credits have been applied for and are pending approval. Call (402) 624-8030 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to register. Locations and times are listed below. There’s no charge with lunch included due to the partnership of the following: Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff, and the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission.
- Feb. 18: Grand Island, Hall Co. Extension Office, College Park, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Reg. 8:30)
- Feb. 19: Norfolk, Lifelong Learning Center, Northeast Com. College, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Reg. 8:30)
- Feb. 20: Beatrice, Valentino’s Restaurant, 701 E. Court St., 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Reg. 8:30)
- Feb. 26: North Platte, West Central Research & Extension Center, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. CST (Reg. 8:30)
Soybean Yield Gap On-Farm Research Project: A number of you have helped through the years in providing field history information for Dr. Patricio Grassini for the Soybean Yield Gap project. That’s the difference between current farm yield and potential yield as determined by climate, soil, and genetics. An analysis of survey responses from over 2000 soybean producers indicated a 20%-30% yield gap for soybean. In Nebraska, three practices have been identified as being important for improving yield and producer profit: planting date, seeding rate, and the use of foliar fungicides and insecticides. An on-farm research study in eastern Nebraska is seeking 20 growers to test “improved” practices versus “baseline” practices in 2019 and 20 again for 2020. A PDF handout with the regions and more details can be found at: https://go.unl.edu/h8hc. Please let me or your local Extension Educator know if you’re interested in this!