Computer Generated Presentation with Script

Sarah Marie Hirsh
University of Maryland
Somerset County

Hirsh, S.M.*1,
1 Agent, University of Maryland, Princess Anne, MD, 21853

Farmers often question if a certain practice or product will result in improved production or increased profit. While consulting literature or experts is helpful, many times the answer is site-specific. Because farms have diverse soil types, topography, management histories, etc, the best course of action may be to “try out” the practice or product in question on the farm. Farmers are well-versed in “trial-and-error”, examining various agronomic management practices or products. These “trials” could lead to more reliable answers if they are designed to follow the basic principles of experimental design—replication, randomization—and if data is subject to basic statistical analyses (means and variability around means). In addition, when evaluating the value of agronomic practices and products, it is important to evaluate cost-effectiveness (e.g., through making economic response curves). This presentation reviews basic experimental design and statistics topics, and encourages farmers to run their own on-farm trials. The presentation then uses a case study to explain how to set-up a simple on-farm experiment, from asking the research question to analyzing the data. In the concluding slides of the presentation, there is a brief discussion of available resources for help with on-farm experimentation. Through understanding simple experimental design and statistical analyses, farmers can independently or collaboratively run on-farm trials that can help them understand what practices and products are worthwhile for their unique farm.