County-based and statewide Cooperative Extension personnel, Penn State research specialists, and consultants of other governmental agencies frequently work with farmers to develop and conduct applied research on private farms. The On-Farm Reseach (OFR) program is college-wide in scope and is facilitated through Cooperative Extension with many activities directed by the program coordinator. The focus of the program is to bring information to Pennsylvania and Northeast farmers that enables them to make better management decisions that improve productivity, sustainability and profitability.
OFR program staff work with producers, farm advisors, county and state Extension personnel, agribusiness, and others to identify applied research questions that can be developed into projects which are then conducted on private farms. On-farm testing might be best characterized as custom research since it is conducted under the conditions of the local soil and environmental conditions and the host farmer's management.
The OFR program provides support by assisting in the various phases of the research process. Staff is available to provide advice for developing objective experimental methods, some labor in conducting the experiment, and assistance with analysis of results. The OFR staff and others in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences often build teams that are able to pursue special funding when necessary.
Financial resources for many areas of agricultural research are limited. In an effort to improve the efficiency with which these limited funds are utilized, farmer input for determining research priorities is important. The OFR program is one way to become involved. This communication is usually through county extension staff or directly with the OFR coordinator. Contact information can be found on this Web site.
We are interested in having you participate in the OFR program. Some of the ways one can contribute to and benefit from the program includes:
- Identify areas of needed research and communicating those needs to OFR staff.
- Offer to conduct an experimental study on your farm.
- Participate in the collection of data from a nearby study.
- Discuss the results with others in the community.