Local Research Benefits Grain Farmers

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People inspecting a field at a field day.Rotating corn with soybeans can improve soil health, reduce pest and disease pressure, and increase total per acre yields and income, but growers in Cleveland and Lincoln counties hesitate to add corn to their crop rotation due to variability of weather and the high cost of fertilizer. Local growers also find that most of our corn research has been conducted in Union County, the Blacklands, and northeastern NC. As important as it is, this research is not necessarily relevant to local growers. Our region presents its own challenges and opportunities based on our soil types and growing conditions. Local producers needed relevant data to help them make informed planting and growing decisions.

To meet this information need, Heather Schronce partnered with area specialized agent Jenny Carleo to conduct on-farm research that was showcased at the 6th Annual Southwest Piedmont Corn & Soybean Field Day in Cleveland County. The event highlighted data generated from trials conducted in partnership with the NC Soybean Producers Association and replicates of a corn variety trial in Cleveland and 5 other counties in the western Piedmont. The soybean trial consisted of 1 plot with 4 replications of treatments examining the efficacy of “Envita”, a new nitrogen biofertlizer. As the popularity of biological products grow, so does the concern of producers wondering if they really work. Across the state, agents took advantage of funding provided by the NC Soybean Producers Association to test biological products. The corn variety trial also generated data relevant to local growing conditions.

Field days and winter production meetings helped facilitate discussions about ongoing research and Extension efforts to disseminate findings from recently concluded research studies. The 6th Annual Southwest Piedmont Corn and Soybean Field Day drew in 120 attendees from 8 different counties in North Carolina as well as 3 attendees from 2 different counties in South Carolina. Industry partners were involved in this field day and make a point to attend as well as agents and specialists from other counties. The NC Soybean producers association as well as the Corn Growers Association of North Carolina have given $4,000 to support the field day. This event attendance continues to grow each year and is one of the biggest events that N.C. Cooperative Extension, Cleveland and Lincoln County Center hosts. This local data impacts decisions that local growers make with products and variety selection. This localized research initiative is poised to optimize crop production and fortify the collaborative bonds among the Cleveland/Lincoln County Field Crops Programs, County growers, and members of private industries.