Plan Now for On-Farm Research Projects
Carl and David Sousek farm about 900 acres of corn and soybeans near Prague. Like most grain producers, experience plays an important role in their operation. But they also have come to rely on the importance of research, especially research on their own farm.
The Souseks are participating with a network of growers in the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network (NOFRN). Research is typically conducted with the producer's equipment, on the producer's land, using the producer's management practices.
Carl Sousek said he liked the idea of tailoring a research project to meet specific questions about practices on his farm and then having access to university extension personnel with the expertise to plan the project and analyze the results.
UNL Extension Soil Fertility Specialist Charles Shapiro is part of a faculty team involved in the on-farm research project.
"Combining the strength of University personnel with producers' interests is a cost-effective and practical system to answer 'real world' questions," Shapiro said.
Tom Hoegemeyer, professor of practice in UNL's Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, and other UNL Extension faculty give guidance to design experiments for scientific and statistical validity, as well as making sure the research can be done with typical ag equipment.
"Participants value cooperating with other producers in the network and studying the same questions. This allows comparisons over a range of real environments—giving participants more confidence in the results and conclusions."
NOFRN is sponsored by UNL Extension in partnership with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the Nebraska Corn Board. The goal of the network is to implement a statewide on-farm research program addressing critical production, profitability, and natural resource questions from farmers.
UNL Extension Educator Keith Glewen has been working with producers to plan and conduct on-farm research for many years.
"The farm operator makes the final decision as to the research topic to be evaluated. We encourage growers to give careful thought as to what production practice may be limiting profitability or could enhance the use of soil and water resources on their farm," Glewen said.
Current research includes irrigation, nitrogen management in corn production, corn population, and cover crops.
For more information on the project or how to participate, contact Glewen at 402-624-8030 or email@example.com, your local Extension office, the Nebraska Corn Board at 402-471-2676, or the Nebraska Corn Growers Association at 402-438-6459. The NOFRN website is at cropwatch.unl.edu/farmresearch.
UNL Extension is in the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.