Tips, insights and processes to inform farmers’ decision making  fill the Guide to On-Farm Replicated Strip Trials published by the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) On-Farm Network®.

The comprehensive manual provides farmers, agronomists, researchers and consultants details about how to set up trials and collect, summarize and analyze data.

“The guide captures the experiences gained from conducting trials over the last 15 years,” said Pat Reeg, On-Farm Network director. “We’ve continuously improved our methodologies and share these along with science-based practices and ‘watch-outs’ so that more farmers can easily implement trials on their farm — with or without the On-Farm Network — and realize the full potential of each field.”  

Replicated strip trials allow farmers first-hand experience evaluating products and practices on limited acres. While technological advancements have made it easier than ever to collect valuable data, knowing how to properly use it remains key to benefiting from that data.

“Farmers may be more open to try new things when commodity prices are high,” said Reeg. “But now, with tightening margins, it is even more important to test and determine the profitability of products and practices.”

Setting up an on-farm trial can be simple and easy for farmers whether utilizing the guide or working with local agronomists, consultants or their regional On-Farm Network field research specialist. Farmers use their own planter, applicators, tillage implements or sprayers to establish the trials. Then in the fall use combines equipped with on-board GPS and yield monitors to collect spatial data. This work can be done utilizing the guide or working with local agronomists

“It is a very simple process from a farmer standpoint,” said Rolland Schnell, farmer from Newton and ISA president-elect. “I’ve being working with the On-Farm Network for several years, and have made many production decisions based on my data and the analysis of data available through ISA. The guide to on-farm research is a great tool for farmers just starting to consider research as well as those who have been doing it a while.”

Schnell says a major benefit to working with the team is the assistance and availability of results from on-farm research across multiple sites and years.

Having access to this type of data, he adds, can help improve understanding of how current management practices, products, weather and soil variability affect yield and profitability.

The On-Farm Network team also aggregates information to influence management decisions. Data is then available to participating farmers and the public anonymously online.

The Guide to On-Farm Replicated Strip Trials is available The print version will be offered at the ISU Extension Crop Advantage meetings in January and provided to attendees of the annual ISA Research Conference to be held Feb. 16-17 in Des Moines.