Maria Boerngen, an Assistant Professor of Agribusiness at Illinois State University, is interested in understanding how farmers access information and how they use that information in decision-making. In Agricultural & Environmental Letters (https://doi.org/10.2134/ael2019.02.0004), Boerngen and co-author Benjamin Marks recently published results of a study focused on farmer perspectives on nutrient loss strategies in one Illinois county. This pilot project was in preparation for a larger survey, but the approach is relevant for understanding how farmers discover information in general. For example, how do farmers learn about new crop varieties or new equipment? Or, what makes an individual farmer decide to implement a new management practice?
This specific pilot study consisted of a telephone survey of 30 farmers, conducted in 2016–2017. The researchers wanted to determine if farmers were familiar with the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, if farmers were concerned with nutrient loss, and if farmers were taking action to reduce N and P runoff. Released in 2015, the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy was developed by a group of researchers and other stakeholders. The document outlines goals for reducing nutrient loss from agricultural land, industry, and urban landscapes. In addition to setting these statewide reduction goals for reducing N and P loss to the Mississippi River, the strategy includes suggested best management practices.
The results of these interviews revealed farmers are concerned about nutrient loss, even if they are not aware of the particular details of the state plan. Of the 30 farmers interviewed, 14 indicated they were familiar with the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. Boerngen says it was encouraging to find out that 19 of the 30 said that they were concerned about nutrient loss and had taken steps to reduce the nutrient loss from their farms. These farmers also stated in interviews that their trusted sources of knowledge included researchers and retailers, suggesting that opportunities for researchers to communicate with farmers through field events can resonate with this group.
Click here to view the full article on CSA News Magazine.
George Hoselton has been working with Data-Intensive Farm Management, under Dr. Maria Boerngen (Illinois State University), on his master’s thesis project since August of 2018. His research focused on understanding how farmers perceive nutrient loss.
Hoselton successfully defended his thesis, “Illinois Corn Farmers Concerns About Nutrient Loss and the Adoption of Best Management Practices” and graduated from Illinois State University with his Masters Degree this past weekend.
Congratulations, George! Thank you for the work you have contributed to DIFM!
Congratulations to DIFM’s German Mandrini, recipient of the Agricultural and Consumer Economics “Outstanding M.S. Thesis” 2018 award for his thesis titled, “Using Crop Simulation to Optimize Variable Rate Experimentation.” Mandrini studies under Dr. David Bullock.
Pictured above is German Mandrini receiving his award with Dr. Bullock at the Award Ceremony.
Dr. David Bullock (University of Illinois) and Keith Curran (Washington State University) traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to attend the Interest Group on Agricultural Data (IGAD) Meeting held on April 1.
“In 2019, DIFM will run approximately seventy trials in ten U.S. states, Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia. DIFM is developing software that will allow it to “scale up” its data management, processing, and analysis activities, and provide a farmer-consultant decision tool that will allow the practical implications of the data analysis to positively affect the efficiency of farmers’ input management decision. DIFM is interested in exploring possibilities of working with other groups to develop a cloud-based research cyber-infrastructure that will aid researchers worldwide who conduct run on-farm agronomic research.”
Divina Gracia P. Rodriguez, David S. Bullock, and Maria A. Boerngen recently published, “The Origins, Implications, and Consequences of Yield-Based Nitrogen Fertilizer Management” in the Agronomy Journal.
Check out their work, now featured on the cover of Crop, Soils, Agronomy News Magazine:
Yield-Based Nitrogen Management
Rules are made to be broken—or at least challenged—even on the farm. The “1.2 Rule” for nitrogen fertilizer application has guided countless agricultural researchers, consultants, extension agents, and farmers for decades. However, some researchers have begun to re-examine the evidence behind it as well as the history of the rule itself.
In an article published recently in Agronomy Journal (http://doi.org/10.2134/agronj2018.07.0479), agricultural economists and agronomists summarized the research that shows the ineffectiveness and harmfulness of the 1.2 Rule and yield-based nitrogen fertilizer management, how the rule came to be, and where the research should go next.
Benjamin Marks, DIFM Undergraduate Research Assistant, presented his poster entitled “The Farming Community’s Perspective on Nutrient Loss Reduction” at the annual Illinois State University Research Symposium on March 31. Ben has been working on the DIFM project with Dr. Maria Boerngen, Assistant Professor of Agribusiness at ISU, for the past year. He conducted a series of interviews with farmers from throughout McLean County, Illinois, to identify the agriculture community’s awareness of nutrient loss issues and the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, the degree of concern farmers have about nutrient loss, how farmers obtain trusted information used in their management decisions, and what types of changes farmers have made in their practices in response to nutrient loss concerns. This effort has provided farmers a unique opportunity to share their first-hand perspective on the issues the DIFM project is addressing. Ben will be graduating with his bachelor’s degree in agribusiness in May 2017, and has accepted an industry position with Helena Chemical. His DIFM involvement will continue, however, as he and Dr. Boerngen are currently writing a manuscript based on his work with the local farming community.
On July 19 in Nueve de Julio, Argentina, Laila Puntel and David Bullock each gave a presentation to a group of 60 farmers and crop consultants. Puntel set up the half-day meeting, working with the Argentine firm Grobocopatel and their farmer-clients. Their main purpose was to publicize the project, and to recruit participating farmers for our trials in South America.
On July 20, Puntel and Bullock held meetings in Buenos Aires with the agribusiness Yara, which does business in the fertilizer industry around the world. They spoke with people in their Latin American research and development team, explaining the DIFM project’s research, and searching for common interests.
Puntel and Bullock also met with representatives from CREA, which is an Argentine institution that works with around 2,000 farmers, often conducting on-farm research. Those discussions also went well, and our project will be continuing them over the coming months.