If you've heard about big yield improvements or cost savings from using some new crop production input and wondered whether that product might help boost your profits, the Iowa Soybean Association's On-Farm Network can help you find the answer as it applies to your farm. "No matter what you'd like to study, this program can help, and now is the time to sign up for trials this year," says Dr. Tracy Blackmer, ISA director of research. "With this program, you don't have to rely on data from studies done on farms way over on the other side of the state, or even in another state." Through the On-Farm Network, farmers use replicated strip trials to study the economic impact of specific crop production practices or inputs before they implement them on their farms. The ISA research staff provides protocols and technical support to all farmers enrolled in these studies.
What trial do you want to run on?
"For 2007, we have the resources to greatly expand our statewide network of farmers conducting replicated strip trials on their own farms," he says. "We're looking for growers who have GPS and yield monitors and a curiosity about nitrogen management, fungicide use to improve plant health and possibly yields, and a number of additional topics."Farmers completed 456 replicated strip trial studies in 2006. That included 180 trials involving nitrogen management and another 27 in which growers looked at the need for nitrogen fertilizer to supplement manure applications. "Growers and their dealers also worked with us in completing 152 trials looking at fungicide use in corn and soybeans," he says, "and more than two dozen studies of corn rootworm controls, both Bt and chemical, in both rotated and continuous corn." Other studies gaining in interest include the need for lime, a combination of insecticides and fungicides on soybeans, foliar feeding, the effectiveness of Bt in controlling corn borer and nematicides for soybeans. "While we've focused heavily on nitrogen and manure management since the On-Farm Network began seven years ago, interest in using fungicides to improve plant health has grown and we could have as many as 400 of these trials in corn and soybeans for 2007," says Blackmer.
Doesn't cost you to participate
The On-Farm Network continues to gain support in its statewide row-crop production research programs. Crop chemical manufacturers and farm supply dealers are helping underwrite the costs of the fungicide studies. In addition to base support from the soybean checkoff, these programs are funded by the Iowa Legislature, through the Integrated Farm and Livestock Management program of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Also, the On-Farm Network program gets money from the federal government. At the federal level these funds come from money designated for conservation and environmental improvement, as well as from Conservation Innovation Grants from USDA's National Resources Conservation Service. Any Iowa soybean or corn grower can take part in the ISA's On-Farm Network studies. The only requirements are that they be willing to follow the ISA protocols and have GPS and a combine yield monitor. To participate in On-Farm Network studies, contact Patrick Reeg by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 800-383-1423 for instructions and trial protocols. A summary of 2006 On-Farm Network strip trial studies is available online at www.isafarmnet.com. For a printed version, contact Christine Borton at 800-383-1423 or by mail at 4554 114th Street, Urbandale, Iowa 50322.