AG NEWS
AG NEWS

Add Greater Value to On-Farm Trial

  • Jan 16, 2017
close up on soybeans
Testing new products and management techniques on your own fields is a good way to get a close-up look at results under your own growing conditions. However, because most on-farm trials are limited in scale, the results provide only a glimpse into performance.
 
To rely on such small-scale data for planning purposes can stymie your chances for success, since the decisions you make are only as good as the data you’re analyzing. And if your data is “iffy,” any resulting actions you might take will be equally suspect.

That’s why it’s beneficial to compare your on-farm data with high-quality, large-scale test results that reflect a variety of soil conditions and weather scenarios, results that paint a more complete performance picture. In 2015, our WinField® United Answer Plot® Program tested 231 corn hybrids, replicated 12 times at 191 locations across the country. We also collected a total of 5 million data points from our trials. This level of local, regional and national testing allows us to ensure the validity of our data, so you can feel confident using it for comparison purposes with your on-farm results.
 
Tips for On-farm Trials
Before doing any data comparisons, make sure your on-farm trials deliver the best results possible. Master Agronomy Advisor Matt Mesenbrink has worked with a number of farmers performing their own trials and offers the following recommendations:
 
  • Keep things simple. Test one thing at a time: one hybrid versus another hybrid; high management versus low management. Limit the trial to the most important information you seek.
  • Understand variabilities. Remember that weather and fertility will affect your outcomes. Because of factors you can’t control, the size of your trial might diminish and, as a result, it may not be a true test of what you’re farming.
  • Work with your agronomist. If trial results differ from what you expected, ask your agronomist to help determine why. Understand that you may need to adapt if conditions change.
  • Engage your other stakeholders. Review your plans with the managers and applicators you work with to help ensure everyone understands what you want to accomplish and what their roles are in helping make that happen.
 
By following these simple steps, you can feel assured in your results and you’ll be on your way to making solid, data-based decisions for the coming year.