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On-Farm Research Helps Growers Generate Results

By Glewen

As corn and soybean growers work to get crops out of the fields this fall, next year's growing season may not be the first thing on their minds.  However, Laura Thompson, UNL Extension educator, said harvest is the ideal time to consider how on-farm research could benefit their operations.

"Harvest provides a great opportunity to think through production-related questions and determine what practices and inputs should be evaluated next year," Thompson said. "Did that new product or extra application of fertilizer or water pay off?  How does a grower know if the investment was profitable for their specific operation? With lower commodity prices, it is more important than ever to evaluate if production inputs and practices are really paying off."

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network (NOFRN) provides an opportunity for growers to get questions answered about their own fields. Research typically is conducted with the producer's equipment, on the producer's land and using the producer's management practices.

NOFRN is sponsored by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in partnership with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Soybean Board. The goal of the network is to put to use a statewide on-farm research program addressing critical farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions.

Keith Glewen, UNL Extension educator, has worked with farm operators conducting on-farm research for many years.

"The farm operator makes the final decision as to the research topic to be evaluated," Glewen said. "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."

Some current research topics include irrigation management, planting populations, nitrogen management and cover crops.

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