Web Resource Coaches On-Farm Research Techniques

Agriculture professionals and crop growers are increasingly conducting and using on-farm research as the basis of crop management decisions. But many lack the background or training on what makes sound, on-farm research produce valuable data.

A new Internet resource developed through Iowa State University is now available to help Extension specialists, crop advisers, 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 at http://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/. Look for “Proceedings” under the main “Resources” tab, then click the “On-Farm Research Conference” link. Information on subscribing is available on all links.

The project was funded jointly by Iowa State University’s Corn and Soybean Initiative and the North-Central Integrated Pest Management Center.

“The site will allow people to learn what it takes to organize and conduct scientifically valid on-farm research,” said ” says Daren Mueller, Iowa State University Extension program specialist.

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. The presentations were recorded at the On-Farm Research Conference held at Iowa State last December.

Project organizers hope the new web resource will give growers and agriculture professionals 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,” says Mueller. “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.”

Project organizers include Mueller; Paul Esker, University of Wisconsin assistant professor of plant pathology; Philip Dixon, ISU professor of statistics; and Greg Tylka, ISU professor of plant pathology and coordinator of the ISU Corn and Soybean Initiative.

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