DIFM Research Featured in CSA News Magazine!

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.

Continue reading this article in CSA News…

Development of a new method for cotton yield monitoring: Think big or go home!

Check out this story from Dr. Tony Grift regarding Brendan Kuhns, a graduate student working with the DIFM Project:

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New Project Coordinator

Carli Miller joined the DIFM team as the new Project Coordinator in November 2018, following Caitlin McGuire’s departure. Carli received her BS in Agricultural Communications from the University of Illinois in May of 2017. Coming from a strong agricultural background, she grew up on her family farm in Central Illinois- primarily raising corn, soybeans, and beef cattle.

Please contact her at cjmille5@illinois.edu.

DIFM in Farmdoc Series

DIFM was highlighted in an article on the University of Illinois Extension’s Farmdoc Daily website, written by Professors Jonathan Coppess and David Bullock. We’ve included the first paragraph, but follow the link above to learn more!

Nutrient loss in modern farming is a challenge that sits at the intersection of food production and the impacts of food production on natural resources (farmdoc daily, February 26, 2016; March 17, 2016).  Agricultural research represents an investment in solving such challenges through basic and applied research efforts, the results of which can be translated to farmers and industry through demonstration and outreach (farmdoc daily, August 23, 2018).  This article reviews USDA-funded agricultural research seeking to apply data, technology and a full range of science to the challenge of managing farm nutrients.

Paula Girón named International Plant Nutrition Institute’s (IPNI) 31 Scholar Award recipient

DIFM graduate researcher Paula Girón was named one of the International Plant Nutrition Institute’s (IPNI) 31 Scholar Award recipients. The IPNI awards graduate students in countries with an IPNI program in science programs relevant to plant nutrition science and the management of crop nutrients.

Paula Girón is working toward her M.Sc. in soil since at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina. She is working on a thesis focusing on site-specific nitrogen management in maize in the northwestern Buenos Aires province. Girón was a visiting scholar with the DIFM project during fall semester of 2016.

First Look at New DIFM Publication

Professors David Bullock, Maria Boerngen, and Divina Gracia P. Rodriguez just received a first look at their accepted paper in the Agronomy Journal, titled “The Origins, Implications, and Consequences of Yield-Based Nitrogen Fertilizer Management.” Take a look!

Developing an Affordable, Retrofittable Yield Monitor for Cotton

During a trip to Colombia by Brendan Kuhns, it became clear that yield monitors for cotton are hard to come by, especially the kind that is retrofittable on older machines. Fortunately, DIFM researcher Dr. Tony Grift did his PhD on the development of a generic method for mass flow sensing of granular materials (fertilizers in particular), and he is eager to apply his method to cotton. We will build a new optical photo-interruption arrangement that measures the spacing durations between clumps of cotton passing a sensor. Then we will apply the theory of arrival processes to determine the number of cotton clumps that pass the sensor per unit of time, which is an indirect measure of the mass flow.

What is so fascinating about this method is that it works by only measuring the spacing times in between cotton clumps. So without knowing or measuring any material parameters, we still can measure the mass flow. It gets better: the measurement device does not need calibration, since nature is literally doing the work. If you would like to read details, here are links to paper 1 and paper 2 (the second won an award from the EurAgEng organization).

We hope that this small project will also connect our statisticians with the engineers (no easy feat!). For more information, feel free to read Dr. Grift’s essay titled “Embracing variability: How to hug a cactus”, which he claims to be “loosely based on the brother of our fearless leader David Bullock.”

Figure 1 Shown is the mass flow sensing scenario; we have clumps of material (cotton balls) and we measure the spacing durations among them. Believe it or not, using Poisson driven arrival theory, these data are sufficient to determine how many clumps are passing the sensor per unit of time, irrespective or the overlapping effect. Isn’t statistics great?

New Faces at DIFM

Joshua Babes is an undergraduate at UIUC studying Agricultural and Consumer Economics who is volunteering to work with the Data-Intensive Farm Management project. Joshua comes from the north side of Chicago and is working towards a career in consulting doing data analytics. He hopes to begin to learn more about the analytics while contributing to DIFM.