Evaluate your field crop on farm research
Jan 04, 2021
It is time to analyze the results you collected from your on farm research trials and determine what added inputs or changed practices provided and economic gain for your farm. Higher corn and soybean values enhance your desire to achieve maximized economic yields. You are faced with decisions about whether to add additional inputs or change production practices. These might include foliar fungicides, specialized fertilizers, advanced genetic traits, seed treatments, tillage systems, planting methods, seeding rates, the use of cover crops, addition of irrigation, adoption of new technology, use of manure or countless other choices. The question is, do they really add yield and gain net profit?
The hard work of laying out replicated treatments of and additional input or a changed practice occurred this spring and summer. Now comes the equally important task of evaluating the representative data. Here is a list of suggestions:
- Take close look at your treatments. Yield is important criteria, but not the only factor to consider. Observe differences in disease pressure, lodging, seed or grain quality and other applicable characteristics.
- Look for odd areas in your field that appear to not be related to the treatments. Take steps to avoid variable conditions giving you misleading results.
- If you have only one side by side strip of are comparing one field to another, be very careful about any conclusions you make. Many fields have variable conditions such as tile lines, soil types, compaction, etc.; a single side by side comparison is not sufficient. Variable conditions exist even in the most uniform fields. An excellent method to reduce these variables and to help insure that the comparison results are indeed due to the practice or product is to have several replications of the treatment.
- Calculate your economic gain. Subtract the cost of the practice or the input including application costs from the value of your increased yield. Consider any other costs such as your time, environmental risk, community response, crop quality. Etc.
- If the field trial has at least three replications, run a statistical analysis on your results to determine how conclusive your data is.
- Compare your results with other producer’s experiences, Extension and university trials, agribusiness trials and the promoted anticipated results.
- Plan your action for next year. It may take multiple years of information before you can be certain of the value of the input or practice.