Optimize Your Operation’s Efficiency with On-farm Research

Julie Batie-Louden and Don Batie
Julie Batie-Louden and her father, Don Batie.

Optimize Your Operation’s Efficiency with On-farm Research

Keep your eye out for Nebraska On-Farm Research's new series, Farmer Focus, where they will be sharing highlights of farmers' on-farm research studies — starting next week!

With ever increasing input prices, you may be questioning how you can make your operation more efficient and profitable.

On-farm research may be just the tool you need to evaluate something new on your operation and gain the data to make future management decisions 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.

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.”

Don agreed: “I’d highly encourage farmers to do on-farm research of some type. Either do something you’ve thought about or come up with a wild crazy idea and try it.”

Need Some Ideas on What to Test?

Evaluate your nitrogen usage on your farm: The precision nitrogen management program would be a great fit for you. This program allows corn and wheat producers to gain hands-on experience with new technologies to manage nitrogen more efficiently. There are multiple options to be involved in this program, you can read about them here: Nitrogen Management Project Options.

Optimize your planting population: The goal of these studies is to find the seeding rate that will maximize both your yield and profit. Comparing multiple seeding rates to find the optimal rate can help direct flat-rate or variable-rate planting prescriptions in the future. This past year planting population trials were done on kidney beans, pinto beans, great northern beans and soybeans.

Test other products and practices: More ideas include testing fungicides, seeding rate, row spacing, cover crops — the possibilities for on-farm research are endless. You can see a variety of research plans on the on-farm research Protocol website. You can also find previous research results and get inspired by different topics through our past results publications.

There’s still time to add an on-farm research component to your operation for this year. Nebraska Extension educators can help design a research plan to test your question in your field, using your equipment and planting practices.

Get in touch with a member of the on-farm research team to get started, or email onfarm@unl.edu or call 402-245-2222.

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is a collaborative partnership that includes Nebraska Extension, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff and the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission.

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