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University of Illinois Extension serving Christian, Jersey, Macoupin and Montgomery Counties

Montgomery County
#1 Industrial Park Dr.
Hillsboro, IL 62049
Phone: 217-532-3941
FAX: 217-532-3944
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am to 12 pm; 1 pm to 4:30 pm

Christian County
1120 N Webster St.
Taylorville, IL 62568
Phone: 217-287-7246
FAX: 217-287-7248
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am to 11:30 am; 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm

Jersey County
201 W. Exchange St.
Suite A
Jerseyville, IL 62052
Phone: 618-498-2913
FAX: 618-498-5913
Hours: Tuesday & Wednesday 8 am to 12 pm; 1 pm to 4 pm and Thursday 8 am to 12 pm

Macoupin County
#60 Carlinville Plaza
Carlinville, IL 62626
Phone: 217-854-9604
FAX: 217-854-7804
Hours: Monday - Thursday 8 am to 12 pm; 1 pm to 4:30 pm

News Release

Data-intensive farm management program receives $2.4 million grant, seeks participants

Source: David Bullock, 217-333-5510,

News writer: Lauren Quinn, 217-300-2435,

URBANA, Ill. – The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently announced a $2.4 million grant through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative to fund an interdisciplinary program led by researchers at the University of Illinois. The data-intensive farm management (DIFM) program will use precision agriculture technologies to run full-field, on-farm agronomic trials that change application rates of nitrogen fertilizer. The data generated from the project will help farmers manage nitrogen application to increase profits and reduce nutrient runoff.

Until now, precision agriculture technology’s potential for improving farm management has not yet been fully realized.

“What we’re doing differently is changing the management variables,” says U of I agricultural economist David Bullock. “We’re characterizing the fields and taking yield data, but we’re also going to be changing nitrogen application rates on a fine scale throughout each field. This will generate a lot of information on what works and what doesn’t.”

The team of 28 researchers and extension personnel from six universities will be coordinating on-farm experiments across 100 fields in Illinois, Nebraska, Kentucky, Argentina, and Uruguay over the four-year study period. In addition to generating a substantial amount of data, the ultimate aim of the project is to develop software that will communicate management ideas to farm advisors. Once that software is developed, the researchers hope to run trials on thousands of farms.

“Because all our experiments will be run on a common framework, we will end up with a lot of data,” Bullock reports. “We’re going to use cutting-edge statistical and economic analysis to determine how different farm characteristics affect optimal application rates.”

Existing management recommendations are often geared toward entire regions or cropping systems, without taking site-specific data into account. The researchers estimate that, after a few years, they will be able to give farmers profitable advice based on experimentation done in their specific fields.

“That’s revolutionary,” says Bullock.

The researchers are seeking farmers to participate in the study. Although farms will become experimental sites, disruption to farmers will be minimal. Experimental protocols will be automatically programmed into farm machinery, meaning farmers simply need to drive their machines as usual. Importantly, farmers will be fully compensated for any losses throughout the experimental period. They will also receive $500 for their participation in the project. 

Interested parties can email David Bullock ( or Don Bullock ( for more information and to sign up.


Local Contact: Gary Letterly, Extension Educator, Energy and Environmental Stewardship,