On-farm research helps growers generate results

April 5, 2016

Lincoln, Neb. — With planting season just around the corner, now is the time to consider on-farm research.

Laura Thompson, Nebraska Extension educator, says, “Nebraska Extension has a long history of on-farm research and participants have consistently expressed the benefit of involvement.”

Nebraska On-Farm Research Network Helps Growers Generate Results
Nebraska Extension educator Nathan Mueller consults with a grower participating in the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network.

 “The network has been increasing in popularity and we are seeing more producers participating.  This is in part due to how easy it has become to do on-farm research with the help of agriculture technologies such as RTK, auto steer, and yield monitors.”, Thompson said.

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network (NOFRN) provides an opportunity for growers to get questions answered about their own fields. Research typically is conducted with the producer’s equipment, on the producer’s land and using the producer’s management practices.

NOFRN is a collaborative partnership which includes Nebraska Extension, Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Soybean Board, and the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission. The goal of the network is to put to use a statewide on-farm research program addressing critical farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions.

Keith Glewen, Nebraska Extension educator, has worked with farm operators conducting on-farm research for many years.

“The farm operator makes the final decision as to the research topic to be evaluated,” Glewen said. “We encourage growers to give careful thought as to what production practice may be limiting profitability or could enhance the use of soil and water resources on their farm.”

According to Nathan Mueller, an Extension educator located in Fremont, Extension has 23 cropping systems educators working from various locations across Nebraska and assigned to cover all 93 counties.  Mueller says, “This statewide group of educators are dedicated to meeting with growers on their farms and helping tackle questions specific to their region in Nebraska. We don’t all farm the same soil or in the same climate, so we don’t expect the same research questions or the necessarily the same results across the state.”

Some current research topics include: optimal planting populations including variable rate seeding approaches, nitrogen management using several new technologies, strip-tillage, evaluation of insect and disease control products, row spacing, and more.  To view detailed plans for these research topics, visit cropwatch.unl.edu/farmresearch/protocols.  New research opportunities will be made available throughout April and May.

For more information on the project or how to participate, visit cropwatch.unl.edu/farmresearch, contact a local Nebraska Extension office or contact Thompson at 402-624-8030 or laura.thompson@unl.edu.

Nebraska Extension is in the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Laura Thompson
Nebraska Extension