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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Urbana, Illinois » Global Change and Photosynthesis Research » Research » Research Project #436544

Research Project: Outreach for a Decision Support Tool for Adaptive Management of Cereal Rye

Location: Global Change and Photosynthesis Research

Project Number: 5012-12220-010-009-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2019
End Date: Sep 30, 2022

Create beta version of web-based decision support tool allowing growers to optimize their planting and termination dates for adaptive use of cereal rye in organic and conventional no-till soybean. Work with over 200 Midwest farmers to implement, evaluate and improve the prediction tool over three growing seasons, culminating in a public version.

In fall of Year 1, rye phenology predictions for project participants will be made by the project coordinator working directly with the improved prediction function. In winter of Year 1, the data analytics subcontractor will spend 15 weeks working to embed the rye prediction function within a web/mobile application that collects user input to provide rye phenology predictions based on site information. Site information will include latitude and longitude, 10 years of daily weather data from the PRISM database for the fall through spring growing season (this layer will be preloaded and stored on the server to shorten processing time), soil textural and organic matter data from the NCRS web soil survey (; also preloaded and stored on the server), rye planting date, seeding rate and cultivar. Users may obtain phenology and biomass predictions in one of two ways: 1) they can input a desired rye spring termination date and see a figure showing the likelihood of rye being ready to terminate on that date for a given planting date in the fall; 2) they can input a desired fall planting date and see a figure showing the likelihood of rye being ready to terminate on given dates in the spring. The application will enable users to provide feedback of two types: 1) qualitative (was prediction of termination date early or late? by how many days); 2) quantitative (user will provide information on rye Zadoks growth stages for different dates in the spring). After each growing season, the rye prediction equation will be updated and used to refine the statistical prediction model. In Year 2 of the study, the data analytics subcontractor will spend an additional 15 weeks refining the application based on user feedback from the core participant group and from winter workshops with the IDEA Farm Network. Because this project will be hosted by, and take place within the context of, the IDEA Farm Network, IFN members will form our treatment group for evaluating the success of the decision support tool, educational materials and outreach events in affecting farmer knowledge, attitudes, skills and awareness (KASA) about the rolled-rye system. We will compare results of online pre- and post- surveys of KASA for IFN members with those from tests of other farmer networks (e.g. PFI, PASA and MOSES) not receiving project materials and updates to test whether the project itself led to changes in KASA, rather than just passage of time and more information about the rye system generally being available.