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Estimating Yield and Water-Quality Response Functions using On-Farm Precision Experimentation, Spatially-Intense Soil Sampling, and Hyperspectral Imagery

Project Team

  • Dr. David Bullock, Professor, Dept. of Agricultural and Consumer Economics
  • Dr. Praveen Kumar, Professor, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Dr. Andrew Margenot, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Crop Sciences
  • Dr. Nicolas Martin, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Crop Sciences
  • Dr. Laura Gentry, Director, Illinois Corn Growers Association and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences

Abstract

It is a central statistical tenet that to learn about a process from observable data, the values of each of the data’s variables must vary sufficiently. The proposed research aims to generate new kinds of data that will provide empirical evidence about how crop yields and nutrient losses depend on crop management strategies field characteristics, and weather. The research strategy takes advantage of the research group’s multidisciplinary skillset to work with data generated on a unique, 160-acre field laboratory, developed and operated by the Illinois Corn Growers Association and the University of Illinois on a U of I Trust Farm field. This field laboratory is the first and only research facility in the world that provides researchers with the ability to accurately measure the nutrient-loss and water-quality effects of varying fertilizer management at the full-field scale. The proposed research plan is to couple existing access to the field lab with data collection efforts using on-farm precision experimentation, intense soil sampling, and hyperspectral imagery to obtain accurate estimates of how optimal nitrogen management strategies depend on soil characteristics, and to use the data gathered to improve models of those dependencies. The ultimate goal of the research is to explore farm management options for attaining efficient (yield, water quality) outcomes.