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Test Plot Considerations
Farmer-conducted test plots allow growers to evaluate how soybean varieties will perform under real-world conditions given the variations in soil types, planters and weather conditions. Investing the time to plant test plots may help growers maximize profits but there are several factors to take into consideration before conducting a soybean test plot. For example, where are you going to plant your test plot? How much land can you dedicate? How many varieties are you going to evaluate?
Stine Regional Sales Agronomist Bill Kessinger says many farmers plant their test plots near their homes so they can monitor them closely. It is critical for test plots to be as uniform as possible to eliminate variables and maintain the integrity of the results. “Plots should be square, have similar slope and drainage and be located side-by-side to draw an accurate comparison,” explains Kessinger. “You can’t compare the standability and yield in one field to another located a mile down the road because weather systems that affect one field may not reach the other.”
The size of the test plot varies by operation. “The general rule of thumb is to plant the width of your platform, which can be between 25 – 35 feet depending on the planter, and the rows should stretch at least 200 feet long,” says Kessinger. The number of varieties planted is based on the grower’s personal preference. “I’ve seen some farmers plant four to five varieties per acre and others plant up to twenty. It all depends on the time and space they have available.”
When it comes time to evaluate seed plot results, it is important to harvest the field early to ensure even stand counts and avoid adverse weather variables. Test your weigh wagon for accuracy and only compare varieties planted within the same plot. Ask your Stine Regional Sales Agronomist to help setup and evaluate your test plot to ensure accurate results.