Peter Kyveryga, a senior research scientist, Research C

Peter Kyveryga, a senior research scientist with the Research Center for Farming Innovation (RCFI), presents information about drone calibration. The RCFI hosted two webinars this week that provided valuable information for soybean farmers across the state. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

Get in the Game: See which 2021 field trials fit your farm

March 11, 2021

By Darcy Maulsby, ISA contributor

Real-world research data helps you make the most of every acre, but that data is even more useful when it comes from your farm. The Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) Research Center for Farming Innovation (RCFI) connects farmers to research opportunities at every level.

“Whether it’s your first or 50th growing season, put the ISA research team to work on your farm,” said Roger Wolf, director of ISA’s Research Center for Farming Innovation. “We want to engage more farmers across more acres for improved profit potential, resiliency and sustainability.”

Opportunities for farmers to participate in various research trials were explained during two webinars hosted by RCFI this week.

An overview of ISA research was presented during the first webinar, which you can view here.

During the second webinar, Iowa farmers talked about how they benefited from participating in RCFI research trials, and RCFI staff dug into interactive tools and opportunities available to Iowa farmers. You can access that webinar here.

Opportunities are available for farmers to participate in various research trials and offerings in the 2021 season, including:

  • Cover crops and soybean production, including cover versus no-cover trials, early versus late cover crop termination, early versus late planting. These trials are available to farmers throughout Iowa, new or intermediate cover crop users, and farmers with herbicide resistance concerns.
  • Cover crops and corn, including nitrogen management (source, time, placement, rate), early versus late termination, and tillage (strip-till versus conventional tillage, and no-till versus strip-till). These trials are available to Iowa farmers in all regions, especially for farmers with soil health goals, as well as intermediate/advanced cover croppers.
  • Manure management. Trials will study cover crops versus no cover, N source (manure and commercial nitrogen), manure applied before and after 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and variable-rate manure sensors. These trials fit all regions of the state, livestock producers, and areas where there are water quality concerns.
  • Poly 4 Fertilizer. This is a multi-nutrient fertilizer with calcium, sulfur and magnesium. The product is blended with potash. Product blends will be delivered to the field at no cost. These trials apply to all regions of Iowa and can be especially useful to farmers who have sulfur concerns on some of their acres.
  • Small-grain/soybean relay crop versus sole-crop soybean. ISA conducted five relay crop trials the state in 2020 and is seeking participants for 10 trials in 2021 and 2022. This opportunity is available to farmers in all regions, including advanced cover croppers and farmers interested in rye seed production.
  • Fungicide trials to compare fungicide with untreated control strips. ISA will provide the products and in-season crop scouting services. This is good for all regions of Iowa, as well as farmers interested in taking a systems approach to farming.
  • White mold systems approach. These trials will compare Cobra herbicide at V6 to V8, as well as Cobra fungicide plus Excalia (a new mode of action against white mold) versus untreated acres. ISA will provide the products and in-season crop scouting services. Consider this if you farm in northern Iowa and have fields with a history of white-mold pressure.
  • Soybean RM/date with fungicide. In small-plot trials, ISA researchers have seen a 9-bushel-per-acre yield advantage for planting later beans early and adding a fungicide. This year, ISA is seeking farmer participants who will plant two different varieties with two different maturities. Each of those varieties will be planted twice (first in the typical corn-planting window, and the second in the typical soybean-planting window). ISA will offer a $750 cooperator payment and will provide fungicide for application. This is good for all regions of Iowa, with farmers who want to take a systems approach.
  • Corn rotation effect on corn rootworm. These trials will study the effects of rotating corn-on-corn fields into corn-soybean rotations. There is a $750 payment to farmer cooperators for participating. We’re looking for fields with two or more years of corn-on-corn. The primary need for farmer cooperators is in northeast and northwest Iowa, specifically for farmers who have fields with two or more years of corn-on-corn.
  • Gall midge research. ISA is seeking farmers with fields in northwest and southwest Iowa with previous gall midge presence. Trials will focus on a combination of treatments, including seed-applied and foliar insecticides. There is a possibility of partial reimbursement for this project.
  • Soil health test results. ISA is seeking farmers with data from the Haney test, Cornell test, soil respiration, aggregate stability, active C and others. ISA’s RCFI wants to improve its soil health test portal that makes soil health tests actionable, so farmers know what management steps to take based on the data.
  • Edge-of-field water monitoring. This includes tile monitoring, stream monitoring and practice monitoring (with bioreactors, etc.). Farmers receive monthly and yearly reports when participating in these monitoring programs. In 2020, RCIF monitored 308 tile sites, 174 stream sites and 51 practice sites.
  • Conservation drainage. Options can include saturated buffers, bioreactors and drainage water management. Depending on the location of the edge-of-field practice, cost-share funding of 75% to 100% is often available.
  • Targeted habitat to protect endangered species. This can include oxbow restoration to help protect Topeka shiners, and pollinator habitat to protect rusty patched bumblebees.
  • Conservation Agronomist Network. This program involves co-op agronomists across the state who help farmers adopt various conservation practices on their acres.

This is not an exhaustive list of RCIF’s on-farm trial opportunities. “Our projects are guided by input from farmers,” said Theo Gunther, RCFI senior research program development coordinator. “We welcome ideas for agronomy trials and more.”

Aimee Bissell, who farms with her family near Bedford, has worked with RCFI to conduct various trials to boost soybean yields while generating a positive return on investment. “Why not partner with ISA and let your membership dollars be reinvested back in your farm?” Bissell said.

To get involved, fill out the ISA research engagement form. ISA’s Research Center for Farming Innovation is taking on-farm research opportunities to the next level for Iowa farmers. Find our interactive tools and view results of our work.