The On-Farm Precision Experiment Framework (OFPE) takes advantage of modern technologies to conduct automated experiments on each field that will optimize the use of field-specific inputs based on maximizing farmer profits. We are producing the tools that allow farmers to determine, on their own in the context of their crop rotation production practices, the best management on each field given uncertainty in climate, prices received and costs of production. With modern monitoring technology we finally have the data at a scale that will allow us to build predictive models to inform agricultural management decisions.
Our research over the past 20 years has consistently indicated that crop response to inputs like fertilizers and herbicides are site specific in nature. Every field is different and most years are different. We are capturing the unprecedented data stream available to agricultural producers by creating algorithms that manages the data and automates the process of conducting experiments, field by field. A farmer that has yield monitors, GPS and VRA capability can have experimental fertilizer and weed control treatments, variable crop seeding rates, and crop variety testing placed in their fields to objectively assess the economic response to these inputs. Perhaps more important, farm managers can build a database for each field that can be employed to simulate a range of economic and climate futures providing a basis for management under uncertainty and assessment of resilience.
OFPE was initially funded by the Montana Research and Economic Development Initiative and continues to be funded by the Montana Fertilizer Advisory Committee and the Data Intensive Farm Management project at the University of Illinois to begin the process of creating an automated on-field experimentation system.