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, Irrigation, Programming

On-Farm Research Conference

Farm operators and agronomists from across the state are invited to attend the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network research results update meeting at a location near them.  Producers will obtain valuable crop production-related information from over 80 on-farm research projects conducted on Nebraska farms by Nebraska farmers in partnership with University of Nebraska faculty. These research projects cover products, practices, and new technologies that impact farm productivity and profitability.onfarm

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is a statewide, on-farm research program that addresses critical farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions. Growers take an active role in the on-farm research project sponsored by Nebraska Extension in partnership with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff, and the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission.

These February programs will provide an opportunity to hear growers who conducted on-farm research share their results from the 2017 growing season. Field length replicated treatment comparisons were completed in growers’ fields, using their equipment.

Research projects to be discussed will include:  cover crops, variable rate seeding, planting populations, multi-hybrid planting, starter fertilizer, fungicide applications, alternate crop rotations, multi-hybrid planting uses, seed treatments, and sidedress nitrogen management technologies including drone and sensor based management, variable-rate nitrogen management.  Certified Crop Advisor Credits are applied for and pending upon approval.

Program Dates and Locations in Eastern Nebraska:

  • Feb. 19 — near Mead, Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 20 — Norfolk, Lifelong Learning Center, Northeast Community College, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 21 — Grand Island, Hall County Extension Office, College Park Campus, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

These programs are free and include lunch, but preregistration is requested for meal planning purposes.  To preregister call (402) 624-8030. Registration check-in begins 30 minutes before the program start time at each site. To learn more about the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network and how to participate, visit

Source: UNL CropWatch

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


Compaction at Planting & Other Educational Resources

As I write this, the ground is wet and there are chances of precipitation. While the moisture is very welcomed, producers might be antsy about the timing, as they try to get in the field. Much research reminds producers that plant roots in compacted, wet soil cannot grow properly and are even more vulnerable to disease.  Paul Jasa, UNL Extension Engineer wrote an excellent article on CropWatch in 2010 that sidewall compaction during planting can be a problem, especially if the crop is “mudded in” and a dry spell occurs after planting.

Jasa goes on to explain other factors other than wet soils that can contribute to sidewall compaction. Planting too shallow can be a problem; in most conditions corn seed should be planted 2-3 inches deep for proper root development. One also should check their seed-vee closers; a variety of attachments are available to help close the seed-vee if the standard closing devices cannot. He provides specific details and types of attachments that you might consider. For more information, go to the archived CropWatch article. Finally another cause for sidewall compaction is lack of soil structure in some tilled fields.

Other Opportunities

In addition to subscribing to UNL Extension’s CropWatch electronic newsletter to remain current on research and recommendations to improve your profitability, there is still room for producers who would like to participate in the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network. Protocols can be found on the CropWatch website. Finally, if you haven’t already planned your irrigation management program for the season, I would encourage you to participate in the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network which I’ve worked with for the past 7 ½ years.

A couple of the tools we use are ETgages® or Atmometers which mimic crop evapotranspiration or ET and Watermark soil matrix sensors which measure soil matric potential or the energy required to remove water from the soil. These two tools have really worked well and have made irrigation management much easier than those gut feelings.  The more information you have the better decisions you can make!

If you would like to participate in this dynamic program, let me know and I’d be happy to help and get you started! If you are in the NAWMN, consider installing your ETgage soon and once done with planting, start the soaking/drying cycle on your Watermark sensors to be sure they work! It’s also important to replace the #54 alfalfa canvas covers and wafers on a regular basis at the start of each season. For more information, go to UNL Extension’s Water Website.