In 2009, a three-year study on Precision Tools for On- Farm Research was initiated by the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta (ARECA), six of their associations and 14 farm co-operators throughout Alberta.
The study is funded by Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund Ltd. (ACIDF), Alberta Pulse Growers, Alberta Canola Producers Commission and Novozymes.
“The potential for on-farm research is huge,” says Ty Faechner, executive director, ARECA. “There is significant interest by farmers to utilize agronomic information due to rising input costs and the potential application of new precision farming and guidance tools. On-farm research takes advantage of these tools but needs to be understood and documented so producers can do on farm research and data collection with modest training.
“Farm co-operators bring all the essential tools, equipment, land and motivation, to take on-farm research to the next level. However, there is a need for guidance to ensure studies and treatments are designed and managed properly and data is analyzed effectively. A team approach also ensures that there is a network of farm co-operators who are committed to evaluating the effectiveness of agronomic products and practices on a field scale. This provides regional evaluation of primary crop production practices in Alberta that will assist in broad-scale adoption of these practices.”
For instance, a study on nitrogen response in canola and phosphorus response in peas was done on 19 fields from southern to northern Alberta. The team approach gave researchers enough data sets that true comparative results could be considered. Results of this study are posted on the ARECA website at www.areca.ab.ca.
“Overall, the Precision Tools for On-Farm Research study is proceeding well considering the need for teamwork in designing and evaluating on-farm research,” says Faechner. “The team consists of a farm co-operator, association staff and researcher, to evaluate the response of crops to agronomic inputs using crop yield monitors.”
ARECA and its associations are not-for-profit organizations working with producers to enhance and improve their operations through innovative field research and new technology.