It's What We Do: Staking Trials

Friday, May 22, 2009

Remember way back when I started explained how research trials are conducted and promised to share more about the whole process? Well, things have been more than a little wet around here.

That doesn't mean that Ron hasn't been working though. They were able to get a couple locations in other parts of the state planted as well as a few trials close to home. I just haven't been able to get out there to get you some photos of it.

Before any field trial goes into the ground, there's a bunch of stuff that needs to get done before they even get to the field, including seed sorting and packaging, planter and chemical calibration, among other things. Once the preliminary stuff is ready to go, its time to work ground and flag the trial.

Each trial is testing one or more hybrids, chemicals, or seed treatments against each other. Each on of these is put into a plot. These plots are then replicated several times. Each replication will have one plot of each treatment in it. Confused yet? (I'm trying really hard to keep it very simple.)

When Ron and crew head out to the field, they need to mark the trial area. They've determined the area of the trial by multiplying the width (based on the number of treatments in each rep) and the length (this is determined by Ron). Hey---how about me bring some math skills into your Friday blog reading?

Armed with extremely long tape measures and flags, they first mark the perimeter of the trial.

Once the perimeter is marked, they start subdividing the area -- they are marking each rep and also putting an alley in between each replication. Wait! You ask what is an alley? Just like there are alleys between buildings, there are alleys between each of the reps. And, they serve similar functions - they let you walk between plots. They're also there to make it easy to see the breaks in the trial and for equipment to get through when they have to do post-emergence treatments (another day, another story).

As they're measuring, they're putting flags in the designated areas to help know where to go when planting. Once the corn is up, they will use stakes to show the different plots.


Farming Fabulously said...

How interesting! Thanks for the 411!

Adrienne said...

Oh the flashbacks!! HA! Actually, since we do county variety trials (corn, soybeans, wheat) - I've actually done some of this myself this year.Make sure that tape is straight! :)