New Fertilizer Research Project Focuses On Using Precision Ag Technology

The University of Illinois will ramp up new fertilizer management research thanks to a $2.398 million grant from the USDA, reports Tom C. Doran, Field Editor, AgriNews.

This grant was part of $16.5 million awarded through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative administered by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

David Bullock, agricultural and consumer economics professor, is the lead investigator for the research that focuses on using precision technology in on-farm field trials to enable data-intensive fertilizer management.

“There is a critical need to generate reliable, site-specific estimates of optimal fertilizer application rates and timing that will be readily adopted by farmers. To generate high-quality data, we will use precision agriculture technology and develop CyberGIS-based software to run low-cost, large-scale, on-farm agronomic field trials conducted by farmers during normal operations,” U of I’s grant application stated.

“Our research will address the Agricultural Production Systems Program Area Priority, in that we will increase agricultural productivity and food security by generating data used to provide management advice that will allow farmers to achieve crop yields with reduced fertilizer input use while limiting nitrogen contamination of the nation’s waters.”

Additionally, project results will aid in the development of socially sustainable agro-environmental policy.

Project objectives are to:

  • Develop a data-driven on-farm precision-agriculture-based research-extension-teaching infrastructure that raises farm income by facilitating movement of data and valuable management information between farmers and researchers.
  • Provide to the public and policymakers accurate information about the costs and benefits of agricultural fertilization policies, especially in regard but not limited to U.S. corn and soybean production.
  • Train and place selected under-represented students in positions to improve agricultural research and agribusiness collaborations between the U.S. and Latin America.

The grant’s term runs through February 2018.

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