USDA-NIFA grant to provide unbiased accessible analyses of agricultural research data

February 11, 2021

The researchers who teamed up to build ISOFAST (Interactive Summaries of OnFarm Strip Trials Tool) have received two-year funding via a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDANIFA) grant for a new project titled “FACT: WebBased Dynamic Data-Analytics Framework for OnFarm Research Networks.” Building upon ISOFAST, which received funding from the ISRC, the FACT (Food and Agriculture Cyber Technologies initiative) project will help to share and provide unbiased accessible analyses of agricultural research data.

Grants from USDA-NIFA are extremely competitive and are awarded to projects that focus on innovations in big data and artificial intelligence for better decision making by farmers and agronomists. ISRC affiliates Fernando Miguez, associate professor of agronomy, Iowa State University and Peter Kyveryga, senior research scientist-analytics, Iowa Soybean Association are working to create a data repository for existing results from field-scale replicated on-farm trials on nitrogen (N) management collected by farmer networks across several states in the Corn Belt, from Ohio to Iowa.

This database will include over 6,500 individual field assessments. The most valuable information for users will be generated by pairing this repository with a web-based, publicly available, interactive graphical summary based on analyses of the repository data. The goal is to establish the first farmer-led data repository in the U.S. for on-farm agronomic research. The repository, which will be managed by the Iowa Soybean Association, will contain field management information, corresponding spatial soil and rainfall data, laboratory soil or plant tissue analyses, as well as aerial imagery from 2006 to the present.

The secure user interface will include summarization and filtering features such as the ability to select data from trials or surveys based on year, state or landform region, form of N fertilizer used, N rate range or application timing, cover crops usage and crop sequence and will have download capabilities.

According to Miguez, “Farmers value research conducted at commercial farms because it mimics the conditions under which they operate and thus are perceived as being realistic and relevant. This project will bring the results from a great set of on-farm management practices, including nutrient management, to an easily accessible web format. The challenge is that you never get the same outcome twice, so results are expected to vary greatly. For this reason, we are working towards using the best analytical methods and communicating this uncertainty in a transparent and accurate manner. Our hope is that this will lead to improved decision making by all stakeholders.”

Originally posted by the Iowa Soybean Research Center.