Crops, Irrigation, Programming

Nebraska On-Farm Research Network Opportunities

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network (NOFRN) is seeking growers who would like to conduct research trials in the 2018 crop season. NOFRN is designed to help growers test and answer questions they have about products or practices they’re considering implementing on their farm. The on-farm research studies provide a unique opportunity to collaborate with university and industry experts to design and conduct research suited to the farmer’s own operation.

A number of NOFRN research protocols are available for 2018 and even more can be customized to address specific farmer questions, said Laura Thompson, Extension educator and NOFRN co-coordinator with extension educator Keith Glewen. For more information, go to

Accessing resources from the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is available at your fingertips – in the field, in the tractor or truck, or wherever you want to use the research app.  The research app was launched in April 2015 is available for iPhone, iPad and Android users. The app enables users to create treatment strips in their own fields and develop a map of their research study. Once the field is created the user has the ability to enter periodic observations related to insects, diseases, weeds, irrigation totals, or other key observations, including photos. At the conclusion of the research trial, the user inputs the harvest results and exports them to an excel file.  The plot layout, observations, and yield data can all be emailed at any time as an excel file.  The data collected will be beneficial to both the app user and to those evaluating the data and results with the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network.

Crops, Uncategorized

Consider On Farm Research

As margins get tighter in 2016, it will be important for producers to cut their costs. With so many products on the market today, it can be hard to know if they will actually increase yields as they claim, but also if it is economically feasible. The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network can help producers do just that – test products and/or production practices to determine their economic feasibility. With planting season just around the corner, consider joining the Network to evaluate products/production practices which can increase your profitability, while gaining access to Extension specialists and educators who will help you set up your research and guide you through the process. In addition, participants benefit from networking with other farmers and being part of this innovative group.

On-farm research has many variants and approaches. It is research that you do on your field(s) using your equipment and normal production practices. This means the research is directly applicable to your operation. The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network approaches topics that are critical farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions, such as:becker-beans-7-7-08.jpg

  • Nutrient management
  • Pest control
  • Irrigation Strategies
  • Conservation programs
  • New technologies
  • Soil amendments
  • Cultural practices
  • Hybrid and variety selection

Comparisons are identified and designed to answer producers’ production questions. Project protocols are developed first and foremost to meet individual cooperator needs. Only projects that are randomized, replicated and harvested accordingly are reported. Multiple year comparisons are encouraged.

In 2015 alone, 80 on-farm research studies were completed with 66 producers participating in studies. Results were presented to 250 people at update meetings in North Platte, Grand Island, Norfolk, and the ARDC near Mead in February. Planning for 2016 projects is underway. More information about project opportunities will be coming soon. If you have interest in conducting an on-farm research study, let Laura Thompson know ( or myself (!

Access to the 2015 growing season results can be found on the CropWatch website.


Nebraska On-Farm Research Network’s Projects

Growers who are interested in side dressing a portion of fertilizer nitrogen are encouraged to take a look at Maize-N, a decision support tool for N recommendation. Nitrogen management for corn may be improved by applying a portion of N during the growing season. This allows N fertilizer availability to more closely synchronize with the time when the crop is rapidly up-taking nitrogen.

Maize-N is a computer program developed at UNL that simulates fertilizer requirement for corn. The estimation of N fertilizer requirement in Maize-N is based on user input information on the current corn crop, last season’s crop, tillage, crop residue management, basic soil properties, fertilizer management, and long-term weather data of the field. The program first simulates corn yield potential and its year-to-year variation. It then estimates the economically optimal N rate of fertilizer to apply.Maize N input.PNG

This year, the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is working with a number of growers to evaluate Maize-N. The study involves 2 treatments: producer’s sidedress nitrogen rate and the Maize-N sidedress nitrogen rate.

There is still time to get involved with this project and evaluate this tool for nitrogen management. You can schedule a meeting to go through the Maize-N tool to generate the nitrogen recommendation for your field. Contact Laura Thompson at 402-624-8033 or More information about the Maize-N study is available at

Another project that growers can participate in is a late-planted soybean population research project. With consistent rain events in portions of the state, many producers still have soybeans to plant. Producers and agronomists question whether they should increase soybean seeding rates when planting soybeans late in the season due to weather delays or replant situations. Late planted soybeans form fewer nodes per plant resulting in fewer places to set pods. The thinking is that increasing seeding rates will compensate for this as well as increase canopy cover and capture more sunlight.

Most universities have suggested increasing seeding rates when planting soybeans in June. However, research done in Iowa showed that soybean seeding rates don’t need to be increased as planting is delayed to early June. Previous on-farm research conducted in Nebraska on soybean seeding rates was conducted in April and May. The results suggest that seeding rates greater than 120,000 seeds per acre (with a final stand of 100,000 plants per acre) rarely increase yield. Is the same true of soybeans planted in June? The protocol is available at

Finally, the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is partnering with industry to research several products available to farmers. The studies are designed using randomization and replication so that the effect due to the treatment being studied can be evaluated. The products being studied include: seed treatment for Sudden Death Syndrome (soybean), growth promoter (corn), growth stimulator (corn and popcorn), and fertilizer Additive (corn).

For more information and to view detailed study protocols on these topics and more, visit

If you have interest in conducting a study or would like more information, contact me, Keith Glewen,, 402-624-8005 or Laura Thompson,, 402-624-8033.


On-Farm Research App Puts Resources at Your Fingertips

Since I have been working with the Innovative Youth Corn Challenge, I have had the goal to engage youth in agronomy-related fields and what better way than to include technology! With the assistance of a great team of Nebraska Extension faculty, accessing resources from On-Farm Research is now available at your fingertips – in the field, in the tractor or truck, or wherever you want to use the research app.  The research app launched in April 2015 is available for iPhone, iPad and Android users. This tool has multiple uses; from the producer working in the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network to doing plot work on their own and more!IMG_2912

The app enables users to create treatment strips in their own fields and develop a map of their research study. Once the field is created the user has the ability to enter periodic observations related to insects, diseases, weeds, irrigation totals, or other key observations, including photos. At the conclusion of the research trial, the user inputs the harvest results and exports them to an excel file.  The plot layout, observations, and yield data can all be emailed at any time as an excel file. The data collected will be beneficial to both the app user and to those evaluating the data and results with the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network.

Keith Glewen, Nebraska Extension Educator, has assisted with the app from the beginning and notes, “This app is the first known smartphone tool available for growers to easily develop their own infield on-farm research trials”. The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is an opportunity for crop producers and University faculty to work closely and generate un-biased, research-based answers at the field level. Participants have the opportunity to work closely with UNL faculty in designing projects, carrying them out, and analyzIMG_2913ing the results.

Laura Thompson, Extension Educator became involved and has statewide responsibilities with the Nebraska On-Farm Research and provided much technical information. Laura stated, “The power of on-farm research is being able to sort out the inherent field and environmental variability and to determine if differences are the result of the treatment being studied effect. This app makes it simple to set up and visualize a well-designed study that will address questions growers are interested in. The introduction of this app is just one more way we are working with on-farm research participants to collect information that is important to them and to farmers all across the state.”

This app provides youth the opportunity to become engaged with the scientific aspects associated with on-farm research. There is no fee to join the network. The mission of the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is to assist growers in increasing production, reducing inputs, and maintaining or improving profits. To learn more about the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network and the smartphone app, go to:


Consider On-Farm Research!

One of my colleagues Laura Thompson who is focused in on-farm research and precision agriculture reminds producers that fall is a great time to start thinking about what to improve for next year’s crops. As you are harvesting, are their some places in your fields where you think they should yield more and some that pleasantly surprised you? What might be some of those factors? Have you tested products or practices you have used recently to determine what might be contributing to your end results? As input costs continue to rise and commodity prices decline, what are some products or practices you could reduce to increase your profit?SensorsWeb

UNL Extension coordinates the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network that can help you design and evaluate an experiment that will provide reliable information specific to your operation using your equipment. Laura points out that precision agriculture technologies have greatly enhanced the ease and accuracy with which we can evaluate the profitability of many practices. Inputs such as water, fertilizer and seed can be applied at variable rates across a field but tracked and geo-referenced. Yield monitors provide yield data for individual field treatments, which can be quickly evaluated and eliminates the inconvenience of needing to use a weigh wagon to calculate grain weights for each treatment.

In order to get started you need to formulate a good question. For example a good question focuses on a single practice and clearly identifies what will be measured; start by identifying a “yes” or “no” question. Local producers several years ago asked the following question, “Can I reduce my soybean population without reducing yield?” Excellent results were achieved from that study and as a result some producers have saved money by reducing soybean populations from 180,000 seeds/acre to 120,000 seeds/acre.

On-Farm research does more than just provide a side-by-side comparison. It provides a set-up for producers that is randomized and replicated to obtain reliable information and assures results were not just a fluke thing by taking out favoritism towards a treatment and reduces the possibility that results are due to chance rather than the treatment.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with some excellent producers in the area and would love to work with you in the 2015 growing season. If you have more questions, you can call my office at (402) 759-3712 or On-Farm Research Network coordinators Keith Glewen at (402) 624-8030 or Laura Thompson at (402) 245-0199. More information can also be found on UNL Extension’s CropWatch website at


Cropping Fertilizer Update

Producers are now thinking about soil fertility needs for next growing season. It is always important to soil sample to ensure you are applying the correct amounts of fertilizer, but with this past season’s drought it’s even more important!  Soil nitrates may be higher than normal this fall, especially in rain fed fields. Take soil samples and determine residual soil nitrate levels before deciding on fertilizer N application rates. Remember that soil temperature.    As I write this, soil temperatures are between 44-45 degrees in Fillmore County.)

If you have collected soil samples, you can go UNL CropWatch’s Soils page to calculate fertilizer recommendations based on your soil test results.

My colleague, Gary Zoubek reminds producers that timing is important when applying nitrogen, ideally it’s best to apply the nitrogen near the time the crop will be using it, and thus, split applications are often are the best!  You don’t want to apply it all in the fall, plan to sidedress or chemigate some on.  Often conditions are not always ideal in the spring or you do not have enough time, so we understand why some producers make applications in the fall.  We also know that if we don’t get excessive rains, we won’t move the nitrogen that’s been applied, but we’re all hoping for above normal precipitation this fall, winter and spring.

In addition, we’re always looking for producers interested in conducting On-Farm Research.  If you you’re planning to make fall anhydrous ammonia applications and would consider doing a timing study comparing fall vs. spring or sidedress,  email me at   I would be glad to work with you.

 UNL Extension’s Hort Update

The latest horticulture update explained that late October, average soil temperatures across the state ranged from 50 to 59 degrees F. Even with freezing air temperatures, root and rhizome growth can continue until soil temperatures drop below 40 degrees. Fall root growth aids drought recovery but only if adequate soil oxygen and moisture is available. Continue to provide moisture in the absence of rainfall without overwatering so soil oxygen levels are lowered due to saturated soils. Planting of deciduous trees and shrubs can also continue.

 Landlord/Tenant Workshop in Fairmont!   

This free workshop is sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Board and the North Central Risk Management Agency in collaboration with our local Famers & Ranchers College committee.  A meal and handouts are included. Handouts and materials will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. This program will be on November 13, 2012 at the Fairmont Legion from 11-3:00 p.m. with registration at 10:30 a.m. Please RSVP by November 6th via email at      


Next Year’s Field Plans

With harvest almost complete for some producers or in full swing, now is the time to reflect on both the challenges and successes from this dry growing season. As you harvested many fields, did you notice any trouble-some spots where excess weeds were present?  Did you notice areas that were pretty variable in yield?  Did you evaluate any practices you might have implemented for the first time?  Were you surprised by any yields from your fields?  While this was a very trying year with the drought, there are many things you can control or work to improve if you didn’t obtain desirable results.

Harvest provides an opportunity for a final evaluation of your weed management program and to a lesser extent, your insect management program. As you travel over all of your fields, take a minute to record observations such as where weeds are present.  Be sure to note the exact locations and details so you know how to correct it for next year.

It is also important to take soil samples with this year’s drought. Have you sampled for soybean cyst nematode in soybean fields with less yield than anticipated?

On-Farm Research Opportunities

Now is also a good time to think how weather conditions in 2012 might impact performance of crop inputs and management practices in 2013. Locally, we have the Greater Quad County On-Farm Research group who participates in various trials, but last year a collaborative statewide effort was launched, the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network. Two of my colleagues, Gary Zoubek and Keith Glewen are co-coordinators for the project and recently suggested in a CropWatch article that whether one’s corn and soybean production is dryland or irrigated, inputs and certain production practices may respond differently in 2013 as a result of unprecedented drought conditions this past growing season.

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network provides growers the framework and opportunity to conduct relevant research in their own fields, using their own farm machinery. With the assistance of UNL faculty, farm operators can make valid, field-sized and replicated comparisons which can provide growers valuable economic information.

For more information, see the On-Farm Research section of CropWatch. The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is sponsored by UNL Extension in partnership with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the Nebraska Corn Board.