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Still Time for On-Farm Research!

With the recent rains and cooler weather in the State, producers still have an opportunity to consider conducting an on-farm research experiment that may be of interest to you!  So far this year we have producers conducting nutrient management, irrigation timing, cover crop, seeding rates and dates, fungicide timing, and studies of various products on the market including sugar products.  You can learn more about conducting on-farm research at our Nebraska On-Farm Research Network Website, our On-Farm Research Grower’s Guide, by Contacting a UNL Extension Educator or Specialist, the Nebraska Corn Board at 402-471-2676 or Nebraska Corn Growers Association at 402-438-6459.  You can also learn more from our producers themselves in the video below.  We hope you will consider conducting on-farm research this year to answer the questions you may have in your operation!

On-Farm Research Update

Hope to see you next week at our Nebraska On-Farm Research Updates to be held March 10 at ARDC near Mead and March 11 in York!!!

On-Farm Research Update

Nebraska On-Farm Research Network Testimonials

Listen to the value of on-farm research to these participants!  Sound interesting to you?  Learn more by checking our our On-Farm Research website or contacting any of our faculty involved!

Goss’ Wilt in Corn

Goss’ wilt was found this week in corn damaged from Memorial Day storms in Clay County.  I’ve also received pictures that appeared toGoss' Wilt in Corn in Nebraska with characteristic black "freckles". be Goss’ from crop consultants in other areas of the State.  Goss’ wilt lesions have a wavy edge, have a varnished look to them when wet, and have characteristic black “freckles” within and particularly along the lesion edges.  We are seeing some plant death due to the systemic version of Goss’ wilt.  This can be seen by taking a cross-section of the stem and looking for orange discoloration in the vascular bundles.  Because this is a bacterial disease, fungicides are not effective in controlling Goss’ wilt.  If you are interested in trying a product that is labeled for treating bacterial diseases in corn, we would recommend you test its effectiveness via on-farm research.  Spraying in a paired comparison treatment design will give you a true answer if the product made a difference for you or not.

To do this simply:Paired Comparison Design with buffer rows for on-farm research comparison

1-Spray a pass or round with the product (depending on sprayer size) to ensure you can harvest two passes from the center of the treated area.
2-Skip the same amount of distance as you previously sprayed.
Repeat steps 1-2 at least three more times

Mark a few plants in each plot and take photos throughout the growing season to determine if disease progresses or not.  You may also wish to keep track of percent of plants affected in each untreated and treated area throughout the season, and check for percent stalk rot and harvest population in each area before harvest as well.

Make sure to harvest two passes from the center of each treated and untreated Split plot harvest design for on-farm research comparisonarea.  Then compare the weights as shown in the harvest figure.  Please let Jenny Rees jrees2@unl.edu (402) 762-3644 know if you decide to conduct this study and if you have any questions!  

More information:

Goss’s Wilt from UNL
Sample Submission to UNL Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic
Nebraska On-Farm Research Network

Understanding Research Statistics

Dr. Charlie Wortmann, UNL Extension Soil Fertility Specialist, explains the power of statistics for understanding yield and other differences and non-differences for on-farm research.

Sugar Applications to Crops

For the past ten years I’ve come across farmers who really believed in applications of sugar to reduce their pest populations.  Being no research to my knowledge to prove it, I tucked the observation in the back of my head for future reference.  With farmers looking to increase yields and looking to other farmers such as Kip Cullers for information, some of our on-farm research producers were curious about sugar applications in their operations with the hopes of increasing yield.

Nebraska On-Farm Research Corn Results

Using the application rates that Kip Cullers uses, one Clay County producer applied 3 lbs of sugar (purchased pallet of cane or beet sugar from the local grocery store) per 10 gallons of water at V7-V8 on corn in 2010-2011.  Cullers also tanked mixed the sugar solution with a post-herbicide application like glyphosate but this producer didn’t do that.  To simulate any affect of the water or driving through the field, he also drove through the untreated check spraying water only.  Two  years of research results showed no significant increase in yield.  However, there was a noticeable difference in standability at harvest.  This producer did not apply a foliar fungicide either year.  When it came to harvest, this producer needed the reel in 2010 for the untreated check.  Stalk rot ratings were taken using the pinch test two weeks prior to harvest.  To him, the $1.25/acre of sugar was worth it to improve standability even if yield was not significantly improved.  You can view the full research report here.

2010-2011-SugarOnCorn On-Farm Research Clay County Nebraska

Several York County producers have also tried this with one producer finding a non-statistical 2 bu/ac yield difference with the check yielding better while the other producers found a statisically significant 2 bu/ac increase to the sugar treatment.  Another producer in Hamilton County is testing this using the corn product he grows-using 1 qt of corn sugar (high fructose corn syrup) per 10 gal of water applied still at V7-v8.

In 2012, a small plot study was conducted at UNL’s South Central Ag Lab near Clay Center to determine any differences between sugar application, fungicide application, and untreated check in corn.  All treatments were applied at R2.  Because of the drought in 2012, there was minimal disease pressure, thus there were no significant differences between the three treatments regarding area under the disease progress curve.  The untreated check did show the most stalk rot (via the push lodging test).  The sugar application reduced the lodging rating by half and the fungicide application showed the lowest lodging rating.  For yield, there were no significant yield differences with the untreated check yielding the highest followed by the fungicide and sugar applications.  The entire study report can be found here.

In Soybeans we have had producers apply 3 lbs sugar in 10 gallons of water at R3 (beginning pod).  In all years, there have been no significant differences in yield.  Lodging ratings were not taken as that is more variety and water dependent.

Additional research…

has shown that application of sugar to crops increases the numbers of beneficial insects in those fields.  South Dakota research entomologists showed that lady beetles benefited from a combination of prey and non-prey foods.   In a follow-up study, these entomologists applied sugar sprays to soybeans and quantified the frequency of sugar feeding by analyzing the gut contents of common lady beetles in three states.  They found all the tested lady beetles regularly consumed sugar-like nectar in soybean fields, even when it wasn’t applied as a supplement.  They also found more lady beetles in the sugar treated plots compared to the untreated plots.

At this time we can’t explain the standability effect we’re seeing from our sugar applications to corn.  Our hypothesis is that early application of sugar to corn is increasing beneficial microbes that may be keeping the exposed brace roots and stalks healthier.  We hope to conduct more research in the future to answer this question.

In conclusion,

the application of sugar to corn and soybeans has not always shown increased yield.  However, in nearly all of the corn studies, sugar treated plots have shown increased stalk strength at harvest.  Research has also shown an increase in the number of beneficial insects in fields where sugar was applied.  Further research is needed to understand the interactions aiding stalk strength in corn.

If you are interested in conducting on-farm research studies in your field, please contact any of our UNL Extension Educators or Specialists!  You can also follow the conversations this year via our Facebook page and Twitter feed!

What do you think of sugar applications to crops?  Have you tried this in the past and if so, what were your results?

Research Fertilizer Options for Your Farm

November 1 is just around the corner-the beginning of when fall fertilizing occurs in this area of the State.  Hopefully many of you have taken soil samples as excess nitrate is to be expected after this drought year.  This is an excellent time to consider evaluating your nitrogen program by starting an on-farm research trial!

On-farm research is using your own equipment, in your own fields, over single or multiple growing seasons allowing you to determine the most economical, efficient, and sustainable practice for the production of irrigated and/or dryland crops on your own farm.

What are the soil fertility questions you have for your farm?

Right now, with fertilizing on producers’ minds, we’re hoping you will consider a soil fertility study.  We have several example nutrient protocols including the UNL N fertility rate compared to +/- 30 lbs, and considerations for nitrogen timing studies such as pre-plant, sidedress, or fertigation.  You can view all these plot designs by clicking on 2012 protocols.  If you are planning on applying anhydrous this fall, be sure that the anhydrous strips are the correct width, as the corn must be harvested and weight determined in a correct manner next fall.

When designing a nitrogen comparison you need to remember nitrogen is a mobile nutrient and corn roots will spread laterally. Therefore, the width of the treatments must take this into account and compensate for it. If you have a 16 row nitrogen applicator and an 8 row corn head, you will need 32 rows of each nitrogen rate. Each 32 row strip must be repeated 4 times. At harvest, in each 32 row block, you must record and weigh the center 16 rows with two separate weights i.e. 8+8 . This is done for statistical analysis purposes. Without statistics, you cannot determine if differences between treatments is the result of the nitrogen rate or because of soil variability.

What’s in It for You?

On-farm research in your own fields allows you to find answers to the questions you may have.  We all read articles or hear presentations about various practices and products.  The question is “Will it work on my farm?“.  That’s what on-farm research allows you to find out!

UNL Extension Educators and Specialists are here to help you design your on-farm research trials, help you with data collection, and will statistically analyze the data for you at the end of the season.  Correct plot setup is critical to reduce any error in favoring one treatment over another (because we know fields are variable and some portions of the field will yield better than others).  The statistical analysis is another tool which helps us determine how much any yield differences between treatments are due to the treatments themselves or to chance.

So if you have an idea you’d like to try, please contact any of the UNL Extension Educators or Specialists working with on-farm research!  The Nebraska On-farm Research Effort is a partnership between the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, and UNL Extension.

On-farm research may sound daunting, but today’s equipment makes it easier than ever.  It does take a little extra time, but our farmers conducting on-farm research feel the value of knowing the results of a study on their own piece of ground make the effort worthwhile.

What are some on-farm research studies you would like to conduct this year or that you would like our group to consider?

On Farm Research

As harvest rolls to a close you most likely noticed some field variability or have some questions about how various products or production practices may work on your farm.  Every year during the winter, UNL Extension educators share research conducted by your peers-other farmers-in their own fields and often those presentations are very interesting to our clientele.

With the advance of farming technologies, it’s easier than ever for more farmers to conduct research on their own farms.  Depending on the study, there may be additional time involved, but overall, the farmers I’ve worked with who have conducted on-farm research say they obtained answers to their questions and the power was knowing it was research based on their own farm.

Last winter the two on-farm research groups in Nebraska combined to form the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network.  With help from the Nebraska Corn Growers and Nebraska Corn Board, three State-wide studies were rolled out in addition to other studies that producers wanted to conduct on their own farms.  That data is still being collected and analyzed right now and results will be presented this winter.

So as you think about the 2012 season, what are the questions you have?  Consider working with your local Extension Educator to design a valid research-based experiment to answer the questions on your farm.  To learn more, please check out the CropWatch on-farm research page.

What studies would you like to see our group research on-farm in 2013?

 

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