Agriculture professionals and crop growers are increasingly conducting and using on-farm research to make crop-management decisions. But many lack the background or training on what makes such research produce valuable data.

A new Internet resource developed through Iowa State University is now available to help Extension specialists, crop advisors, agribusinesses and growers plan and execute scientifically sound on-farm research.

The Web resource is a collection of webcasts detailing design and data collection for different types of on-farm research. The webcasts are posted on the Plant Management Network, a nonprofit, online publishing Web site managed jointly by a network of university partners, agribusinesses and agriculture-focused science societies. Staff and students of Plant Management Network partner universities and companies can access the materials for free. All others must pay a registration fee ranging from $38 to $45, which provides unlimited access to all online materials and resources for 12 months.

The webcasts are available on line.  Look for “Proceedings” under the main “Resources” tab, then click the “On-Farm Research Conference” link. Information on subscribing is available on all links.

Topics cover the basics of on-farm research design, data collection methods and ways to improve data quality. Viewers can learn how to plan an experiment, improve chances of a successful trial, economic considerations and how weather can affect research. Project organizers hope the new Web resource will provide another tool to include integrated pest management principles in farm decisions.

“Many growers and agribusinesses are inundated with data, which they use to make critical decisions about production practices. We want them to be able to recognize and understand scientifically sound crop production research that will help promote wise crop production and protection decisions, which is an integral goal of integrated pest management,” said Daren Mueller, Iowa State University Extension program specialist.

Project organizers include Mueller; Paul Esker, University of Wisconsin assistant professor of plant pathology; Philip Dixon, Iowa State professor of statistics; and Greg Tylka, Iowa State professor of plant pathology and coordinator of the university's Corn and Soybean Initiative. The project was funded jointly by Iowa State University’s Corn and Soybean Initiative and the North-Central Integrated Pest Management Center.

Source: Iowa State University