John Sawyer, Faculty, Agronomy
Information transfer to clientele is critical for improved nutrient and soil management in Iowa. Unfortunately, many materials are promoted for sale that have questionable value, or are confused with products that are proven useful. Providing research-based information on non-traditional materials helps producers make input decisions and economically reach crop production goals. Use of the internet to locate production information has become commonplace for producers, crop advisers, and agency personnel. Providing information at an easily searchable web site allows for a consistent resource, and readily provides access to new information.
The goal is to provide a central web site for research-based reports on non-traditional materials that is accessible to crop producers, ag-business professionals, certified crop advisers, and state agency personnel.
The Compendium of Research Reports on Use of Non-Traditional Materials for Crop Production (published by the NCR-103 Committee, Non-Traditional Soil Amendments and Growth Stimulants) was originally published in paper format. It contained the original compendium, and two supplements. To find research reports, a product index was created by manually finding products in each report, and users had to see if reports were available for a particular product by looking at the index, and then going to the reports in the compendium. The compendium was bulky, and adding new material required printing special supplements. Also, the costs were high to due printing expense. An electronic compendium web site ( http://extension.agron.iastate.edu/compendium/index.aspx) was created where reports originally in the compendium were converted to a searchable format, and new material was added. The web site was designed with an indexing search tool, which allows fast listing of all reports that contain user designated search words. Reports are provided in PDF format for easy viewing and printing with commonly available free software. New materials identified for inclusion in the electronic compendium are easily added on an on-going basis, with immediate availability for searches. Statistics on use of the site from approximately March 1, 2005 (date when site went on-line) to June 30, 2005 indicate approximately 615 visits to the site and 1,472 page views.
Application of production inputs is a major expense for Iowa crop production. Economic payback from any input is essential to maintaining economic viability. Producers are confronted regarding the use of many different materials, many of which are unfamiliar to them. For producers and crop advisers, access to a source of scientifically-based research information is essential to making appropriate decisions on use of these materials. The electronic compendium web site is used significantly, with many individuals locating science-based research information on non-traditional materials.
103 -- Nutrient Management
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July 8, 2006
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