Why Conduct On-Farm Research?

What a man hears, he may doubt. What he sees, he may still doubt. But what a man does himself, he cannot doubt.

Seaman Knapp

You may be questioning why on-farm research is important to you and your farming operation. Like Seaman Knapp said, by doing the research yourself, you see whether products and practices work on your farm. On-farm research involves using your land, your equipment, your practices, and the products you apply to learn how a product or practice would directly affect your farming operation. It means that the research being done by you on your farm is directly applicable to your operation. The primary costs to you are in the time it takes to implement the trial and gather data. New technologies have greatly reduced the time required and improved the ease of conducting on-farm research. Precision agriculture tools such as global positioning systems (GPS) and geographic information systems (GIS) have enhanced how we can collect and analyze spatial data to improve decision making.

Another cost may be when the product or practice tested does not enhance yield or profitability and you do not receive a return on your investment. This cost, however, would be greater if the product were used over your entire farming operation and you did not obtain reliable information on its effectiveness. As university research funding for production agriculture continues to be limited, on-farm research is one way universities can partner with growers and the agricultural industry to answer production questions and benefit all of agriculture.


Of those attending UNL Crop Production Clinics and Pesticide Applicator trainings in 2010-2011, 97% and 86%, respectively, said they planned to implement practices validated by on-farm research on their farms. Follow-up surveys showed 80% had implemented one or more on-farm research proven practices. Of those, 59% reported increases of 1-6 bu/acre yield and $11-$15 value per acre.