How to leave a check strip

Growers can use strip trials on their own farms to test how a particular practice or product performs in a local environment. This information can then be used to help decide whether it may be worthwhile to try this new practice or product on a larger proportion of the farm, and to target it at acres with the greatest likelihood of success.

Strip trials are just as they sound. They are long strips of treated/untreated crop within a field, created using a grower’s own field scale equipment.

Keep it simple. Strip trials should be based on only two or three treatments: one that illustrates a new practice or product, one that demonstrates a normal practice, and perhaps a third evaluating an alternative strategy with a similar cost.

This is not a scientific study. One strip trial in one field cannot produce statistically significant numbers. There is no replication. You have to go on gut instinct.

Choose a uniform field.  Uniform plots will minimize the natural variation so that any differences that do show up between strips are more likely to be the result of the treatments, rather than random variation.

Longer plots are better. On-farm tests will produce more reliable results as plot length increases from 250 to 750 feet or more.  As for strip width, it is ideal if the treated width is wider than the intended harvest width. This will ensure that the area harvested keeps fully within the treatment area.

Mark the strips. That way you’ll be able to monitor strips through the growing season and harvest strips accurately.

Take it to yield and harvest fairly. Visual comparisons early in the season are not a reliable predictor of yield trends, so it is important to follow through on measuring final yields accurately.

Do an economic analysis. A higher fertilizer rate or a fungicide treatment may produce higher yield, but it also needs to increase profitability.

Consider non yield factors. Yield alone may not be the deciding factor in whether a treatment is beneficial for a particular farm or not. Does it reduce lodging or delay maturity? Does it improve quality?

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