PFI Seeks Farmers for On-Farm Research Trials

Northwest Iowa — Farmers investing in soil health practices like cover crops, no-till, diversified crop rotations and integrated livestock grazing and others, are invited to participate in two Practical Farmers of Iowa on-farm research trials.

The first trial explores whether these practices support using less nitrogen fertilizer. Now in its third year, this study directs corn farmers to compare their typical nitrogen fertilizer rate to a reduced rate of their choosing in randomized, replicated strips. The reduced rate is entirely up to the farmers; it’s also up to the farmers to decide when, how, and what form of nitrogen they apply.

The second trial aims to find out if cover crops give farmers greater access to their fields over a season. Many farmers have observed that using soil health practices long-term improves soil function. But most don’t have scientific data from their own fields. Farmers will observe their cover-cropped fields throughout the year and complete a short survey on a weekly basis. By taking part in these trials, farmers will have a chance to empirically test the impacts of those soil health investments on their own farms. The results will offer practices they can use to improve their operations, their land stewardship, and their bottom lines.

Stefan Gailans, PFI’s senior research manager, says the evidence they gather may help farmers become more resilient to challenging weather patterns, particularly during the high-stress planting time in the spring. To be eligible, participants must have been using soil health practices for at least five years. All farmers who sign up will receive a one-time payment for taking part. Enrollment for both trials is now open and will close on April 10. For more information and application forms, click here ( .

(Courtesy fellow Community First Broadcasting station KSOU in Sioux Center)


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