This week begins Nebraska Extension’s On-Farm Research Update meetings. Over 100 studies were conducted in 2019! Each meeting runs from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (registration at 8:30 a.m.). Meal is included and there’s no cost thanks to our partnerships with Nebraska Corn, Soybean, and Dry Bean Boards and Growers’ Associations. Please pre-register at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-624-8030. Meetings are: Feb. 18 at Holiday Inn Express in Beatrice, Feb. 19 near Mead at ENREC, Feb. 20 in Norfolk at the Extension Office, Feb. 26 in Kearney at the Extension Office, and Feb. 28 in York at the Holthus Convention Center. At the meetings, you will receive a book of all the 2019 studies and hear from the farmers who conducted the studies if they are present at that specific location. What’s powerful about that to me is that you get to hear from your peers and the discussion and questions are greater. At all locations except for York, all the studies in the book will be shared. New this year to only the York location, only the cover crop on-farm research studies will be shared followed by outside speakers sharing about cover crop/soil health topics. That meeting also qualifies for UBBNRD nitrogen credits.
On-Farm research in Nebraska has occurred the past three decades. Growers partner with Extension and sometimes other government agencies and ag industry to test questions on their own farms using their own equipment benefiting many with the information. We often don’t have funding to do these studies. Thus, I’m extra grateful for our cooperating growers to research products and production practices that may not happen otherwise!
Sometimes, it’s best to hear from the farmers themselves regarding why they conduct on-farm research. The following YouTube video highlights area farmers David and Doug Cast of Beaver Crossing and Ken Herz of Lawrence: https://youtu.be/tEy-I43CT0E.
Three York County farmers were also featured in a CropWatch article sharing their on-farm research experiences. Ron Makovicka and Jerry Stahr have conducted on-farm research since the beginning while Jay Goertzen was a first year participant. “Anytime you can get information, it’s very valuable. You can always learn something,” Stahr said. Goerzten shared, “There’s good support provided to help set up a research plot, help you with the follow through, and collecting data in-season.” All shared there was value in trying studies on your own farm with Makovicka emphasizing, “Go for it!”
This year, Makovicka and Stahr worked with me to compare areas with and without the nitrification inhibitor (N-Serve®) with their spring anhydrous ammonia applications. Nitrification inhibitors may reduce the rate at which ammonium is converted to nitrate thus helping reduce N losses through denitrification and leaching. Stahr applied 160 lbs N as anhydrous on April 8, 2019 in no-till, silt-loam soil. Makovicka applied 180 lbs N as anhydrous on April 10, 2019 in ridge-till, silt-loam soil. These locations were around 4 miles apart and the previous crop in both was soybean. At both study locations, no yield difference occurred between the check and inhibitor treatments. Soil samples were taken 2” off the anhydrous band down to three feet for both ammonium and nitrate concentrations at V7 growth stage. The results showed the nitrification inhibitor was working to slow the conversion of ammonium to nitrate in Makovicka’s field but not Stahr’s. We don’t have a good explanation for this. However, the results are consistent with other University studies conducted in silt loam soils.
Those are two examples of on-farm research studies. If you’re interested in trying a study for 2020, please contact your local Extension Educator. We work with you to set up your study in a scientifically valid way to work with your equipment. There’s also an opportunity to obtain up to $300 reimbursement for water-quality related studies through the UBBNRD (there is a short application form for that through the NRD). Please also save Mar. 2 from 9-Noon for an on-farm research ‘brainstorming’ meeting at the 4-H Building in York. I’ll share more on that and other study results next week.
Ron Makovicka helping me take soil samples for his study.