WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Two Purdue Extension agronomists are
seeking farmers who are willing to collaborate in on-farm, field-scale research
trials to study corn plant populations and nitrogen management.
Corn specialist Bob Nielsen and soil fertility specialist
Jim Camberato have been studying corn yield response to nitrogen fertilizer in
field-scale trials for eight years, and plant populations for 13.
Between the two projects, they have accumulated a database
of results from about 275 such trials — the majority of which have been
conducted in collaboration with growers on their fields, using their
“Even though we have a large database of trial results, we
believe there is more to be learned from continuing these field-scale trials,”
Nielsen said. “Yield responses to both of these crop inputs are often influenced
by growing conditions and conducting more trials helps us sample a wider set of
While both studies need more trials in general, the nitrogen
management research especially needs more sandy — irrigated or non-irrigated —
The size of on-farm trials tends to range from 30 to 80
acres, with some as large as 200 acres. Nielsen said fields do not need to be
uniform and that growing condition variability actually helps researchers
evaluate nitrogen rates and plant populations in a more realistic
Nielsen and Camberato plan and design the trials and provide
the information to collaborators. They will provide plot flags when necessary
and will complete all data analysis. Local Purdue Extension educators also will
play an active role in the trials.
In addition to providing useful data for farmers statewide,
the trials can offer extra benefit to a collaborator’s bottom line.
“On-farm research is a great way to evaluate the merits of
agronomic practices on growers’ own farms, under their own conditions and
management practices,” Nielsen said. “We are convinced that growers can
accurately identify the ballpark optimum nitrogen rates and plant populations
for their farming conditions after collaborating with us for two or three
Farmers interested in participating in the trials can get
more information by contacting their local Purdue Extension Agriculture and
Natural Resources educators. They also can visit directly with Nielsen at
765-494-4802 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Camberato at 765-496-9338 or
Nielsen and Camberato’s most recent plant population and
nitrogen research updates are available on Purdue Agronomy’s Chat ‘n Chew Café
website at www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/cafe.
Both the nitrogen management and plant population research
projects have been supported in recent years, in part, by the Indiana Corn