AMES, Iowa -- Crop growers and agribusinesses interested in conducting scientifically sound on-farm research have new resources at their disposal from Iowa State University.
 
ISU's Crop Adviser Institute has developed two educational modules covering research design and data collection for crop production research, designed for newcomers to on-farm research as well as extension specialists, crop advisors, agribusinesses and growers.
 
Each course costs $5 and can be viewed online, downloaded to a personal computer or mailed on CD by request. Certified crop advisors (CCAs) who pay $15 per credit for the test, will receive the study material at no cost. Taking both module tests, a CCA can receive up to 5.5 crop management credits.
 
The first module, "Crop Production Research: Research Design," teaches how to set up an experiment and covers types of experiments, basic tools needed to conduct crop production research and tips for working well with cooperating producers. CCAs can earn 2.5 credits at a cost of $37.50.
 
The second module, "Crop Production Research: Data Collection," covers the basics of good data collection; how to store and manage data; the differences between agronomic, disease, insect and soil fertility data; and how to collect supplemental weather and economic data that can be used to help interpret research results. CCAs can earn 3 credits at a cost of $45.

"The courses are individually approved by the American Society of Agronomy, so if certified crop advisors took both courses the material would not overlap," said Tom Schultz, program coordinator of the Certified Crop Adviser Institute.

To access or order the new Crop Adviser Institute training modules, visit http://www.cai.iastate.edu <http://www.cai.iastate.edu> , click on "Modules" and look under the "Crop Management" heading.

The training modules were developed from presentations at an ISU On-Farm Research Conference. The presentations are posted as webcasts on the Plant Management Network, a nonprofit, online publishing website managed by a network of university partners, agribusinesses and agriculture-focused science societies.
 
"We're building on the original content by adding new sections that will address other questions and issues growers may encounter as they start testing crop production practices in their fields through on-farm trials," said Daren Mueller, ISU Extension program specialist and one of the project organizers. Recently, a new statistics section was added.

"We hope these resources will help promote wise crop production and protection decisions -- an integral goal of integrated pest management."
 
The webcasts are available at www.plantmanagementnetwork.org. Look for "Proceedings" under the main "Resources" tab, then click the "On-Farm Research Conference" link. Information on subscribing is available on all links. Staff and students of Plant Management Network partner universities and companies can access the materials for free. All others must pay a registration fee ranging from $38 to $45, which provides unlimited access to all online materials and resources for 12 months.

The original project was funded by ISU's Corn and Soybean Initiative and the North-Central Integrated Pest Management Center.

SOURCE: Iowa State University.