3 Keys to Conducting Your Own On-Farm Trials
Spring is here and Midwest farmers are eagerly awaiting another planting season. I’m sure you’ve done a great job of selecting seed and planning where to plant each Latham® hybrid. Remember, pre-planning is also required for your own on-farm research trials.
Farmers are always interested in continual improvement, so it’s only natural that many are interested in seeing how new releases or experimental products will yield on their own farms. As a farmer myself, I plant some newer genetics alongside some of my tried and true favorite hybrids to help determine which products I’ll plant next season. As a member of Latham’s Corn Product Team, I also understand how important it is to properly place products in these tests.
Here are a few suggestions for conducting a fair test in your own on farm trials:
- Compare similar hybrids. Make sure you’re comparing hybrids with the same trait package and relative maturity. Harvest moistures must be fairly close, so the samples are fairly consistent. You may have an average moisture but there could be some long-term storage issues if you put grain in a bin that is too wet.Also make sure you’re comparing hybrids of similar height, or at least plant enough rows of each one so you don’t have a shading effect that can reduce the yield dramatically on a shorter hybrid. Try and plant a row sequence that fits the width or number of rows for your combine header. Combines run more efficiently and the yield monitor is more accurate if the harvest width is consistent across the trials.
- Plant a large enough trial to get a fair test. While many research plots use shorter rows to test several varieties in a manageable amount of space, seed companies like Latham Hi-Tech Seeds also use testing equipment that is very specialized for data recovery. Make sure you plant enough of the new hybrid to fit your combine header in a large enough area to get a good readout from your yield monitor. Accuracy is important because you will be making next year’s purchasing decisions based on your findings.
- Keep the trial on even ground. Unless you split the planter and cover the entire field, there is no better way to compare hybrids than side-by-side on a piece of flat ground to take soil variability out of the equation.
Speaking of new product testing, I’m very excited about the production plan our Latham Product Team has assembled for the 2017 selling season! As an industry-leading independent seed company, we’re able to focus on traits from all sources including GT, VT2 Pro, Artesian, SmartStax and Powercore – pending approval. Information gained from Latham SuperStrip Trials plus our own research plots across our sales footprint enables us to strengthen our already strong corn lineup.
I’m looking forward to another exciting year of plot analysis! How about you? The Latham Product Team is here to provide additional background information and insights, so feel free to call upon us!