From Data to Decisions: The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network Helps Farmers Find Answers
Conducting on-farm research can help provide the reliable answers you need to make decisions for your operation with confidence. For three decades, Nebraska farmers have been working with university specialists and educators to design research projects to test products and practices on their farm. This allows farmers to determine what products work best for them on their own operation. Fifty-nine percent of farmers who implemented on-farm research practices observed a 1-6 bu/acre yield increase, with an average value increase of $11-15/acre.
Don and Barb Batie, who own Batie Cattle Co. near Lexington, Nebraska, started participating with Nebraska On-Farm Research in 2017. Since then, they have had a wide range of research studies on their farm.
“With the help of extension personnel, it makes it so much easier, and they’ll do all of the nitty gritty and push the numbers for you,” Barb Batie said. “All you have to do is decide what it is you want to research and get in touch with your extension staff, and they’ll make it happen.”
“I’d highly encourage farmers to do on-farm research of some type,” Don Batie said. “Either do something you’ve thought about or come up with a wild crazy idea and try it.”
In 2021, over 100 Nebraska On-Farm Research Network projects were conducted. Practices such as cover crops, row spacing, planting population, starter fertilizer and more were evaluated, as well as technologies such as drones, sensors and models for nitrogen management and variable-rate seeding technology.
On-Farm Research Update Meetings in 2022
- Alliance — Knight Museum & Sandhills Center, 908 Yellowstone
- North Platte — West Central Research, Extension, and Education Center (WCREEC), 402 W. State Farm Rd.
- York — Cornerstone Ag & Event Center, Fairgrounds York, 2400 N. Nebraska Ave.
- Norfolk — Madison County Extension Office, 1305 S. 13th St.
- Auburn — 4-H Building Nemaha County Fairgrounds, 816 I St.
- Kearney — Buffalo County Extension Office, 1400 E. 34th (Fairgrounds)
Programs start at 9 a.m. CST (8 a.m. MST). Check-in begins a half-hour before the meeting starts. The program will conclude at 3:30 p.m. CST (2:30 p.m. MST).
The Baties’ daughter, Julie (Batie) Louden, said she has always been fascinated by science, “and then having extension come out and do actual real science on our farm and try some new ideas to see what will work — I love the idea of taking ideas and putting them into practice.”
Today’s participants utilize the latest in agriculture technologies. GPS guidance systems are used to place treatments within the field, trials are monitored with drone, airplane or satellite imagery, and yield monitors are used to collect production data. The increased use of precision technologies is allowing for more in-depth understanding of the treatments that farmers are researching, allowing them to discover where certain products or practices work in their fields. While the technology to conduct on-farm research has changed over time, the mission remains the same — to help farmers address questions that will make them more productive, profitable and sustainable.
Each year participants get together at an annual results meeting, where they get the chance to share their results and network with other innovative Nebraska farmers. This year’s meeting is on Thursday, Feb. 17 and there are six in-person meeting locations around the state. To register, and for more information, visit the meeting page.
Nebraska On-Farm Research is a collaborative partnership of Nebraska Extension, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Soybean Checkoff and Nebraska Dry Bean Commission. Read results from over 1,000 studies, see example project plans, watch video presentations and find out how to get started by visiting the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network website or contacting Laura Thompson at 402-245-2224.