Aerial View Of A DIFM Trial

Take a look at this 2020 on-farm trial located in Illinois.

Photograph from a drone. Many of the trial design’s plots can be distinguished with the naked eye.

The Furrow: Ag Research in a New Age

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.”

Read the full article by Larry Reichenberger on The Furrow:

Trevisan Presents at ASA-CSSA-SSSA International Annual Meeting

   The American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America hosted the 2019 International Annual Meeting, “Embracing the Digital Environment,” on November 10-13, 2019, in San Antonio, Texas.

   Rodrigo Trevisan, graduate student in Crop Sciences, gave two presentations titled, Understanding the Spatial Variability of Optimum Nitrogen Rates Using Remote Sensing and on-Farm Precision Experimentation and Using Deep Learning to Predict Optimum Crop Management Decisions.

View the presentation materials below:


Bullock Invited to Speak at InfoAg Conference

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:

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.

Faces at DIFM: Hoselton Graduates from ISU

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!

Bullock and Curran present at the Interest Group on Agricultural Data (IGAD) Meeting

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.”

Check out their full presentation, “On-farm Agronomic Research, Data Generation, and Modeling in the Data-Intensive Farm Management Project and Washington State Farmers Network.” 


Pending Applications

Over the past summer, DIFM project members at the University of Illinois collaborated with researchers at Washington State University and Montana State University on three USDA-NIFA grants. Currently, we are waiting on hear back on the following applications in hopes of expanding the DIFM project in the coming years:

  “Increasing Agricultural Resilence Through On-Farm Experimentation”

 “A Workshop to Plan an International Cyber-Infrastructure for On-Farm Production Research”

  “Advancing Wheat Nutrient Recommendations Using Statistical and Economic Models Developed Through On-Farm Research and Participatory Learning”

Personnel Changes: New Faces On the DIFM Project

Due to their significant effort to date, we have officially added three scholars to the DIFM project. Dr. Nicolas Martin, Assistant Professor in Quantitative Agronomy in the Department of Crop Sciences, will participate in DIFM trial design and statistical analysis of the data generated.

Dr. Haiying Tao will work with DIFM trial designers to take the practical aspects of running trials in the Pacific Northwest, and will supervise the implementation of Washington and Idaho wheat trials. Laila Puntel will communicate with cooperating researchers and participating farmers in Argentina, and will concentrate on experimental design and data analytics from those trials.

Nicolas Martin’s undergraduate degree is in Agronomy at University of Mar del Plata; his graduate studies at the University of Illinois focused on studying Soil-Plant relationships with multivariate analysis and spatial statistics. After graduation, Martin worked for more than 10 years in the seed industry developing drought-tolerant corn hybrids and using large geospatial datasets to position trials and soybean varieties in the marketplace. As an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, he hopes to improve the long-term profitability and stability of cropping systems by exploring applications of quantitative methods on big data. He is interested in interdisciplinary efforts to expand the frontiers of agricultural research and study effective approaches to implement new insights and discoveries in agricultural decisions and operations.

Laila Puntel graduated from the National University of Mar del Plata in Balcarce (Buenos Aires) with a BSc in Agronomy. She got a MS degree in Crop Production and Physiology at Iowa State University and is currently pursuing a PhD degree. Her research focuses on customizing a cropping system model as an in-season tool to support management decision-making and means of improving nitrogen management decisions in maize production systems. She is the co-founder of and leads research and development at Clarion, a precision agriculture consulting company in Argentina, where she has worked with site-specific nutrient management based on soil mapping and analysis.

Haiying Tao is an assistant professor of Soil Fertility and Residue Management in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at WSU. Her research programs focus on fertility management and strategies to improve soil health for WA agricultural systems. She is currently leading an effort to develop a farmer’s network, which will be a platform for information sharing, participatory learning and on-farm research using precision agricultural technologies.