NEERA1402: Reporting Guidelines and Data Handling Protocols for Databases of Nitrogen Response Trials in Corn

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Active

NEERA1402: Reporting Guidelines and Data Handling Protocols for Databases of Nitrogen Response Trials in Corn

Duration: 10/01/2014 to 09/30/2019

Administrative Advisor(s):


NIFA Reps:


Statement of Issues and Justification

The need.

This coordinating committee is needed to facilitate discussion about and development of reporting guidelines and data handling protocols for databases containing research results and meta-data from corn nitrogen experiments conducted on farms and at research stations. The previous multistate research coordinating committee and information exchange group, NEERA 1002, entitled “Adaptive Management for Improved Nutrient Management”, has completed ten national symposia on adaptive nutrient management at the American Society of Agronomy’s and Soil and Water Conservation Society’s national meetings, and presented three national webinars in cooperation with USDA NRCS.

The symposia and webinars were about adaptive management of nitrogen in corn. There was a consensus at the last committee meeting that the next step would be to develop reporting guidelines and data handling protocols for large databases of research results from nitrogen experiments on corn. For this reason we propose to change the name and to shift the objective of the committee to creating reporting guidelines and data handling protocols for databases of nitrogen response trials in corn.

The importance of the work and consequences if not done.

This committee's work is extremely important for creating improved nitrogen recommendations for corn. Most of the work completed by the committee has been about how to use adaptive management to improve nitrogen management in corn. The committee currently has a manuscript about the strengths and limitations of current nitrogen recommendation systems, tests and models prepared and in review. This 30-page review article, if accepted in Agronomy Journal, will provide scientists and policy makers with the latest information about nitrogen management for corn. The committee members wrote the review article to inform the agricultural community about what is possible with current methods of making recommendations for nitrogen with the hope of clearing up many misperceptions that seem to be common among scientists and policymakers who do not have the time to study nitrogen as a full-time occupation. The development of the manuscript would not have been possible without the existence of the NEERA 1002 committee structure.

The next step is to create reporting guidelines and data handling protocols for databases of nitrogen response trials. Without guidelines and data handling protocols for databases, scientists and farmers are reluctant to add their research results to a database. Without a large database of nitrogen response trials and associated meta-data, improvements in nitrogen recommendations will proceed slowly due to insufficient data in individual studies to make accurate estimates of factors affecting N needs of corn Burzaco et al., 2014; Tremblay et al., 2012). Thousands of nitrogen response trials will likely be needed to identify and quantify the major factors affecting the spacial and temporal response of corn to nitrogen (Burzaco et al., 2014; Tremblay et al., 2012). Databases with thousands of nitrogen response trials will enable the use of predictive analytics to greatly improve nitrogen recommendations. Large databases can also be used by economists, modelers and other scientists to generate new information about the response of corn to nitrogen and the factors affecting the response.

The committee has received a small amount of funding from an NSF grant ($10,000) entitled “Research Coordination Network on Reactive Nitrogen” led by Eric Davidson, North American Coordinator for the International Nitrogen Initiative, and from Environmental Defense Fund ($10,000) to organize a workshop to develop reporting guidelines and data handling protocols for databases of nitrogen response trials. The grant money was provided to the committee members partly because we are organized as the USDA coordinating committee NEERA 1002. Revising the objectives for the committee to explicitly include development of reporting guidelines and data handling protocols for nitrogen databases would help continue this important work.

The technical feasibility of the research.

The research to develop reporting guidelines and data handling protocols for nitrogen response databases is technically feasible. The difficulty will be to decide what information should be reported due to the fact that many factors affect the response of corn to nitrogen across time and space. We propose to overcome the difficulty of what information should be reported by adding more scientists to the 20 scientists in the US who study nitrogen management in corn already on the committee. We will invite scientists from industry and commodity associations to join the committee. We also will invite interested farmers to attend workshops to develop the guidelines and data protocols. Some farmers who are active in commodity associations have expressed interest in attending workshops to develop reporting guidelines and data protocols. Because major scientific organizations such as the Ecological Society of America and PLOS have reporting guidelines and data protocols for their scientific journals, we think the difficulty of attaining the objective of this committee is technically feasible.

The advantages for doing the work as a multistate effort.

This work could not be completed without a multistate effort. There currently are scientists from 15 states involved in the committee, and that includes about 80% of the corn acres grown in the US. Improvement in nitrogen recommendations requires a multistate effort like this because understanding nitrogen losses and gains in fields requires collection and comparison of data from nitrogen response trials across ecoregions and years.

Objectives

  1. Organize workshops to develop reporting guidelines and data handling protocols for databases of nitrogen response trials in corn.
  2. Publish the guidelines and protocols as a research editorial in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
  3. Perform outreach about the guidelines and protocols to agricultural scientists who perform research on the response of corn to nitrogen.
  4. Create a team of scientists from land grant universities, industry, commodity associations, government agencies and nonprofit environmental groups to pursue funding for development of databases of nitrogen response trials in corn.

Procedures and Activities

We will organize workshops and sponsor regional, and national symposiums to discuss use of large databases and predictive analytics within the research, extension and agri-business community. We will write articles for scientists in refereed journals, and articles for agricultural service providers and farmers about the concepts, processes, and benefits of improving nitrogen recommendations by use of large databases and predictive analytics. We will use examples of large databases of nitrogen response trials from programs such as the On-Farm Network at the Iowa Soybean Association and the Adapt Network in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund.

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • An expected outcome will be improved nitrogen recommendations for corn, which will be derived from a better understanding about factors affecting nitrogen needs for corn.
  • The short-term impact (5 years) will be a 5-10% improvement in nitrogen use efficiency in corn.
  • The long-term impact (5-20 years) will be a 10-25% improvement in nitrogen use efficiency in corn with a subsequent reduction in the amount of nitrogen that escapes corn fields and pollutes water bodies.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

The educational component will deliver information about how large databases of nitrogen response trials can be used to improve nitrogen recommendations. This will be done through regional publications, web-based bulletins, and symposia at national conferences. We also will exchange research finding and extension-type educational materials, bulletins, and fact sheets about use of large databases and the use of predictive analytics to improve nitrogen recommendations.

Organization/Governance

The Committee Chair provides leadership for the committee and is responsible for coordination with the Northeastern Directors and for planning at least one annual meeting. The Committee Chair Elect provides support to the Chair and becomes the Chair the following year. The Secretary is responsible for submitting minutes and state reports from annual meeting and becomes Chair Elect. Officers serve for one year or longer if re-elected. Other subcommittees are established as needed to meet the programming needs of the group.

Administrative guidance is provided by the assigned Administrative Advisor and NIFA representative.

Literature Cited

Burzaco, J. P., I. A. Ciampitte, and T. J. Vyn. 2014. Nitrapyrin impacts on maize yield and nitrogen use efficiency with spring-applied nitrogen: field studies vs. meta-analysis comparison. Agron. J. 106:753-760.

Tremblay, N., Y. M. Bouroubi, C. Bélec, R. W. Mullen, N. R. Kitchen, W. E. Thomason, S. Ebelhar, D. B. Mengel, W. R. Raun, D. D. Francis, E. D. Vories, and I. van Ortiz-Monasterio. 2012. Corn response to nitrogen is influenced by soil texture and weather. Agron. J. 104:1658-1671.

Attachments

Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

CT, KY, NC, NY, PA

Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

Environmental Defense Fund
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