Providing confidence with local data in Kentucky
Published: May 03, 2023
Nutrien Ag Solutions’ innovation farms in Owensboro and Hopkinsville, Kentucky went the extra mile to display local data to growers and customers in the surrounding areas by producing a Research Guide. The guide includes reports about trials underway at the farms as well as product guides based on trial results and high-level direction for growers working with comparable soil, product, and seed as seen on the farms.
“We are thrilled to announce that this year, the Owensboro Innovation Farm produced its first annual Research Guide that provides our growers with relevant local data to help make more profitable decisions on their farms,” says Ryan Neely, Manager of Research Farm Marketing and Farm Manager for Owensboro Innovation Farm. “With a grower-focused mindset, the Owensboro Innovation Farm develops a strategy that gives our growers whole-acre solutions and uses field-scale equipment to relate as closely to their experience as possible.”
The team behind Nutrien Ag Solutions’ network of eight innovation and research farms is looking to expand the assembly of research guides to the other locations in the near future.
About the Owensboro Innovation Farm
Established in the 1970’s, the Owensboro Innovation Farm is the oldest farm within the innovation and research farm network. Other than the Owensboro and Hopkinsville locations, there are four other farms in the US: Champaign, Illinois; Hopkinsville, KY; Winterville, Mississippi; and Selma, California. There are also two innovation and research farms in Canada located in Watrous, Saskatchewan and Rosebank, Prince Edward Island.
“The cool part about what we’re doing at our innovation and research farms is that we’re the hub for all these suppliers, which allows us to be the Rubik’s cube to show our agronomists combinations that growers would actually use on their fields,” says Thaddeus Bates, Senior Manager of Nutrien Ag Solutions’ Innovation Farms. “We can test products before they go to market and with this information, it gives our agronomists confidence and as a result, gives our growers confidence in the solutions they’re using on their fields.”
The team on the farm conducts almost 100 research trials on a 120-acre lot that includes corn, soybeans, and wheat. The sole purpose of Nutrien Ag Solutions’ Innovation Farms is to provide growers and stakeholders with proven knowledge and performance with the quality products we offer.
With seven well-drained silt loam soil types, the farm can produce reliable trial data. According to the Royal Horticulture Society, silt soils are well-drained soils that hold more moisture than sandy soils and is easily compacted. Loam soils are a mix of clay, sand and silt that are easily worked and avoid some of the challenges of working with clay or sandy soils.
To test in-house products such as Loveland Products and Dyna-Gro, as well as products from strategic partners and basic manufacturers, the farm uses both small plot and large-scale strip trials. The large-scale strip trials are used to evaluate and display commercially available products that work well individually and together. The small plots include experimental work that focuses heavily on pre-commercial products in a randomized and replicated format.
In 2022, the Owensboro Innovation Farm moved locations and had the opportunity to build a new facility that allows the team to host various field days and clinics for producers and co-operators for on-site training, education, and customer/stakeholder engagement. With many new hires and interns, the farm serves as the location for Research Farm Field Days, which revolves around working with the manufacturers to educate growers, agronomists, and employees about what innovative technologies they can expect to see in the coming years.
The team forms whole-acre solutions by executing Agronomic Innovation Trials (AIT) on the farm. This technology-based process allows for fully randomized, replicated field trials without the hassle of flagging off an area for applications and spending extra time during harvest measuring lengths and calculating yields with weigh wagons. When you allow for multiple replications and randomized treatments, statistical significance increases and data credibility is ensured. Applications are prescription based with the capability of extending to any piece of equipment with a rate controller, allowing growers to do research at the speed of farming.
From pre-plant to harvest, the Nutrien Ag Solutions Innovation Farm Network has one goal in mind: season long profitability for our growers and their farms.