Crops, Irrigation, Programming

On-Farm Research

Nebraska Extension has a long history in on-farm research. In 1989, twenty Saunders County producers came together through Nebraska Extension to form the Nebraska Soybean and Feed Grains Profitability Project. This group began doing randomized, replicated research to answer questions that impacted the profitability of their farming operation. Due to the original group’s success, the idea spread to surrounding counties and in 1998 the Quad Counties research group was formed in Clay, Fillmore, Hamilton, and York Counties in south central Nebraska. Extension Educators and Specialists worked with 20 farmers to produce reliable, unbiased research. The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network builds upon the success of these two organizations, expanding on-farm research to a state-wide effort in 2012.SoybeanPopCount.JPG

On-Farm Research Brainstorming/Discussion Session:  You hear and read about various production practices and products that work for other farmers.  You may have questions regarding a specific practice or product working on your farm.  On-farm research is a way to answer this for yourself!  In the past, our area on-farm research cooperators met before the growing season to brainstorm ideas and discuss potential research topics together.  We are resurrecting this brainstorming/discussion session with it to be held on Monday, November 27th from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at the Fairgrounds (4-H Building) in Aurora.  We encourage farmers who have conducted on-farm research in the past or are considering/interested in on-farm research in the future to attend.  If you’re interested in attending, please RSVP to Steve Melvin at or Jenny Rees at

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.


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: