The U of I project is entitled “Improving the Economic and Ecological Sustainability of US Crop Production through On-Farm Precision Experimentation.” In collaboration with Washington State University’s Extension Program and cotton, corn, soy, and wheat producers, researchers plans to deploy a data-intensive crop management system based on on-farm precision experiments. Farmers will use these tools to conduct site-specific, data-based evaluation of the yield costs of reducing nitrogen losses, enabling data-informed input management decisions.
“The great thing about this award is that it gives us funding to make sure that every year we can increase the profits of participating farmers and their crop consultants,” Bullock says.
The Data-Intensive Farm Management Project was featured in the recent February edition of The Furrow.
Precision ag technology is spurring a dramatic change in agricultural research. It’s replacing the time-consuming test plot techniques of the past – the marking flags, tape measures, weigh wagons, and grad students – with today’s automated computer files, variable-rate controllers, and yield monitors. These new tools are empowering growers to easily and economically generate data that makes on-farm research a reality.
“This new approach is a real game-changer,” says David Bullock, agricultural economist at the University of Illinois. “The future could see farmers conducting experiments on their fields as routinely as they now take soil samples. The result will be management recommendations based on field data, rather than a ‘rule of thumb’ recommendation.”
A data management research team, which includes University of Illinois researchers, is helping farmers leverage their existing precision technology to conduct on-farm trials and enhance their management, according to David Bullock, U of I agricultural and consumer economics professor.
Bullock, who spoke Thursday at U of I Agronomy Day, leads the Data Intensive Farm Management (DIFM) research team that generates and analyzes agronomic data to improve how the world fertilizes crops. DIFM is in the fourth year of a $4 million research project funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. -FarmWeekNow
Click here to read the full article by FarmWeekNow.
DIFM Principal Investigator David Bullock gave an invited presentation, titled “The Data-Intensive Farm Management Project: Using Precision Technology to Get the Information Needed to Use Precision Technology Profitably,” at the InfoAg Conference in St. Louis, on July 25. The InfoAg Conference bills itself as, “The Premier Event in Precision Agriculture,” and features seminars by agribusiness and academia, along with display booths by companies that have entered the digital agriculture industry. Approximately one hundred farmers, crop consultants, and professionals in the digital agriculture industry were in attendance. Agribusiness professionals from the U.S., Australia, and Ukraine approached Bullock after the presentation, expressing interest in learning more about collaborating with the DIFM project. His Power Point presentation can be found at:https://infoag.org/.
Pictured above is just a few of the exhibits in the Union Station. Over 1200 registrants attended the 2019 InfoAg conference, held July 23-25th. The InfoAg Conference has been a premier event since 1995.
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.”
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.
Dr. David Bullock and graduate student Jaeseok Hwang went to New York to meet with Margaret Krause and Dr. Michael Goore of Cornell University and the Advanced Ag Alliance, a non-profit organization in New York dedicated to running on-farm whole-field agronomic trials with participating farmers. DIFM and the Ag Alliance agreed that DIFM would analyze and report on data from their experiments between 2015-2018, and will design approximately 20 trials for the Advanced Ag Alliance in 2019. These trials will focus on seed rate and seed variety. In return, they will provide funding for a grad student research assistant’s tuition and salary.
Jaeseok Hwang and Margaret Krause, meeting at Cornell University, to discuss Advanced Ag Alliance trials.
Following this, Bullock and Hwang went to Auburn, New York, to meet with farmer Todd DuMond. DuMond was the principal driver behind the Ag Alliance’s on-farm research project. DuMond has a BS and MS in Engineering from MIT, and is passionate about Data-Intensive Farm Management. They discussed field trial details.
DIFM grad student Jaeseok Hwang will conduct the statistical and economic analyses for the DIFM/Advanced Ag Alliance field trials in New York state. Here, Jae is shown at the farm of farmer Todd DuMond, who founded the AAA.
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!
Professor Bullock, in conjunction with members of the team behind the recent NSF INFEWS application, submitted the following abstract for consideration in the upcoming INLRS Annual Workshop’s Research Showcase:
We propose to create an integrated FEW model and with user-friendly software to 1) enable individual farmers to examine the predicted economic and environmental impacts of their fertilizer management strategies, and 2) provide policy makers with a user-friendly tool in order to design policies that will lead to efficient reduction of N-nitrate contamination in the Mississippi River Basin. The model will be based on the ideal CyberGIS computation platform, and expand to the scale of the Mississippi River Basin the DSSAT crop growth model and the SWAT water drainage model. The model will also integrate the BioScope model of biomass supply, and a partial equilibrium economic model of crop, energy, and biomass markets in the U.S. Midwest and beyond. We argue that the principal shortcoming of current agricultural “Big Data” is that there is little record of variance in managed input use. Of course, managing inputs efficiently is the whole point of farm management, whether the goal is to increase monetary returns or environmental sustainability. Therefore, we propose to parameterize our integrated model with data we generate from large-scale, on-farm agronomic field trials over an entire small watershed. Those trials will randomize N application rates and cover-crop management strategies to measure both yield and water quality results of varying these managed input variables. We will use the generated data with existing agricultural “Big Data” to create “decision tool” software to improve private and public crop fertilization strategies. The proposed research will rely heavily on the proven abilities and infrastructure of the CyberGIS Center for Advanced Digital and Spatial Studies, and on the software, administrative capacity, and scientist-farmer relationships developed in an on-going USDA-NIFA Food Security project on data-intensive fertilizer management. In addition, we will provide opportunities for underrepresented undergraduates to gain research experience through an extension of the WE CAN program.