Will it work for me? This question echoes in our minds as we sit through presentations at meetings, read news releases and listen to farm broadcasts. There's a lot of information out there about new practices and products. How much of what is offered will really make a difference?
Well, you’re not alone. Increasingly, universities, commodity organizations, fertilizer associations, advisers, agencies and farmers are working together in local networks to conduct on-farm research to find solutions.
When is a good time to consider joining such a network? Now. The video below from University of Nebraska states it well.
What are some advantages to getting involved with on-farm research? Here are a few.
Finding what works to push yields higher. High-yielding farmers I have visited with in the past conduct trials on their fields to figure out what practices lead to higher yields. Research is done just about every season, and over time these farmers figure out what works best. Check out an interview with Randy Dowdy, a recurring winner in the National Corn Growers Association Yield Contest and advocate of on-farm research:
Finding what products and practices are profitable. These farmers stress that it all comes down to the bottom line and describe why they got involved:
Become a part of the solution. Working with researchers does many things. Researchers can help design an experiment, provide instrumentation, share protocols for taking measurements and analyze data. Researchers can handle the more scientific aspects of projects. A great example of how university and farmer cooperation led to practical improvements in nutrient management for wheat in Montana is provided in the video below:
Consider becoming part of an on-farm network. The links below can help get you started.
ON-FARM NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES:
ILLLINOIS -Illinois Council on Best Management Practices
INDIANA -Purdue Collaborative On-Farm Research
IOWA -Iowa Soybean Association On-Farm Network
Practical Farmer's of Iowa Cooperator's Program
KANSAS -Kansas Ag Research & Technology Association
MICHIGAN -Soybean Management and Research Technology (SMaRT) project
NEBRASKA -University of Nebraska On-Farm Research Network
NEW YORK -New York On-Farm Research Partnership
Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York
OHIO -The Ohio State University Extension
PENNSYLVANIA -Penn State Extension
WISCONSIN -University of Wisconsin Extension Badger Plots
NATIONAL -Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education