AMES — An 80-acre demonstration farm divided into eight corn and soybean fields using various agricultural methods has been established in Ames.
As part of a partnership between Deere & Company and Iowa State University, the Demonstration Farm will allow Deere to test sustainable solutions for coarse grain production systems in real-world scenarios.
“Farmers work in ever-changing environments where every decision will impact their end result. To ensure they can feed a growing world population, and do so in a sustainable way, they must adopt proven practices to produce what is needed and expected. The ISU strategic partnership enables Deere to face the same uncertainties and challenges as our customers, so we can better serve them with proven, innovative and sustainable solutions,” said Andy Greenlee, principal engineer at John Deere.
“Additionally, Deere has a long-standing relationship with ISU, which has enabled both parties to apply agronomic science through field demonstrations to create opportunities for Deere farmers and customers. This partnership builds on Deere’s Leap Ambitions, which are focused goals designed to drive both economic value and sustainability for customers, ensuring that every hour, every drop, every seed, every pound and every passage counts to optimize their operations”, Greenlee added.
Half of the farm will be planted in a corn-soybean rotation, while the other half will be planted in a corn-corn-soybean rotation. The tests will use a conventional tillage situation or passes, reduced tillage where more residue is kept on the soil surface, strip tillage practice where they only till a light 10 inch strip, then zero tillage with cover crops.
“This partnership will drive new innovations that will increase productivity, profitability and environmental stewardship for Deere farmers and customers. This partnership is a starting point for evaluating the environmental benefits of different practices on the test farm. It will also open the door to the possibility of greater and broader research in the future,” said Greenlee.
“Physical measurements of key soil and water parameters will help document net sustainability improvements with a quick approximation of soil carbon and soil health. As well as a comprehensive comparative analysis of yield and profitability between different production practices. »
Throughout a five-year production cycle, four different crop production systems will be implemented. Data and information collected will measure crop productivity, economic cost of production, soil health, water quality, carbon intensity and biodiversity.
“As part of testing various sustainable farming scenarios, Deere will document agricultural production practices in the Operations Center – Deere’s cloud-based farm management system to measure crop productivity, the economic cost of production, soil, water quality, carbon intensity and biodiversity. Training demonstrations will also be documented to showcase customer commitment to sustainable practices,” said Greenlee.
All economic aspects of agricultural production, including machinery costs, input costs and crop yields, will be documented and reported by the UIS. A summary of the profitability of agricultural production will be reported annually for each production system.
Soil health will be assessed using standardized processes jointly defined by Deere and ISU.
These can include factors such as soil bulk density, aggregate and macropore size, and soil carbon, among others. Soil health measurements will be replicated in each agricultural production region as well as in specific landscape areas. The results will be presented according to spatial differences in the landscape to highlight the influences of environmental factors.
“Lysimeters will be installed each year to record nitrate levels. A lysimeter is a tube inserted into the soil and then water samples are taken from the tube throughout the growing season. Using lysimeters to collect water samples can provide a better understanding of subsurface nutrient and water fluxes, which can inform on-the-ground management for environmental protection,” said Greenlee.
Deere will use its just-emergent planter technology to place the seed in the exact spot in the furrow. They will also use automatic guidance technologies to help save fuel and section control to currently apply fertilizer at the correct rate.
“ISU has a long-standing relationship with John Deere, which has allowed us to translate agronomic science into practice through field demonstrations to open up opportunities for farmers,” added Matt Darr, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering at ISU. “This new research allows us to test new sustainability solutions, so farmers can adopt practices they trust.”
The Demonstration Farm will not only allow Deere and ISU to prove the success of sustainable practices at scale, but it will also provide significant opportunities to educate employees and students, engage dealers and customers, and demonstrate equipment.