If this is your first try at on-farm research, make it easy on yourself, and look for a fairly uniform field, suggets John Oolman, director of precision farming research for Agri-Growth Inc., Hollandale, Minn.
"Pick out a field that doesn't have a history of uneven manure application, doesn't have any old field boundaries in the middle and doesn't have large elevation changes," Oolman
"Don't use the boundaries of the field - the headlands - because they're not typical of the rest of the field, either."
Look at a yield map or search your memory (and maybe the memories of your elders) to assure that the field is fairly uniform.
"We've had some surprises," he
"You'll find spots in a field that are real high in fertility and soil quality, and the 40-year-old farmers won't know why.
But Grandpa will say, 'Happy Jack
had an old hog farm there.' You'll still see high fertility leels around old homesteads and barns that have been gone for 50 years."
notes an alternative that farmers sometimes use to compare seed selection is to stirp-plant the field, loading one type of seed in half the planter, another type in the other side.
Although this does not randomize the plots, it can be an acceptable method "if you do 25 or 30 strips like this," Oolman
Just take care not to favor one side over the other.
"Make sure you're planting at the same depth," he