Give Test Plot Entries A Fair Chance

Give Test Plot Entries A Fair Chance

Corn Illustrated: Don't assume you know what the outcome should be and let the data tell you.

The Research plot sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tippecanoe County Extension and Purdue University's Throckmorton Farm this year will compare planting depths, but it will also compare how two hybrids perform on different soil types.

One hybrid was picked because it usually performs better on darker soils. The other was picked because it usually performs better on lighter soils. Even though the research block looks fairly even from a distance, there are two distinct soil types running across the plot.

The first thought would be just to make sure the hybrid for higher ground gets planted on the lighter ground and the hybrid for better ground gets planted there.

Don't assume! The first rule of doing plot work is to assume you know nothing and give each treatment an equal chance, Dave Nanda says.

"No, you can't do research that way," says Dave Nanda, a plant breeder and Director of Genetics and Technology for Seed Consultants, Inc. "A good researcher has to assume he doesn't know which hybrid is better for which ground. It's called the null hypothesis. You start out in the trial without bias and let the results tell you the truth.

Related: New Planting Season is Also Time For New Batch of Testing

"It may be that those recommending one hybrid for better ground don't have conclusive proof that's true, and vice-versa. What you must do is plant them both on both types of ground, harvest them separately and then let the data tell you if your hypothesis is right or not."

Nanda has set up and helped carry out hundreds of plots, both variety trials and plots like this one to test various practices over his career. It's always important to go into a trial without bias, and to have as many replications of the trial as possible.

"You need at least three replications, and four are better," he says. To make these plots field length, which is about 30 rods, there will be three replications in this test so there is enough room for all the treatments.

Stay tuned for updates later in the season.

From the corn hybrid you select to the seeding rate and row width you choose, every decision you make influences the size and scope for corn yields. Download our FREE report: Maximizing Your Corn Yield.

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