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URBANA, IL -- A new multi-state research project funded by the North Central Soybean Research Program has been initiated to investigate the effects of weather, soils, and management on soybean yields. The project’s University of Illinois leader is looking for help from Illinois farmers.

“As part of this project, we need to gather basic information on at least 500 Illinois soybean fields for each of the crop years 2014 through 2017,” says U of I crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger.

These data will go into a large database that will be used to look at how management affects yields in a given soil type and with a certain weather pattern. In effect, each field can be treated as a “test plot” and, with enough “plots”, researchers will be able to detect yield effects of factors like planting date, variety maturity, and other management decisions.

“I’m asking for help from soybean producers and those who work with producers to gather the information we need to make this work,” explains Nafziger. “For now, we are focusing on getting information from fields in 2014 and 2015.” The researchers plan to ask for information again after the 2016 and 2017 crop years.

Producers will be asked to fill in information for up to four soybean fields on a simple form. The form requests about 20 pieces of information for each field, including field location, planting date, variety, and seeding rate, but no detailed records (such as names, application dates, and rates of herbicide) are required. Most farmers will be able to record information for a field in five to ten minutes.

“The more fields we’re able to get information on, the more useful this effort will be,” Nafziger explains. “As the largest and best state for soybean production, we are hoping to produce the largest and best set of information of all states involved in this effort.”

Farmers who want to participate can fill out the forms posted at http://bit.ly/1oN3RBB or can contact Nafziger directly for electronic or paper copies of the forms. Nafziger can be reached at ednaf@illinois.edu.

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