On-farm verification programs provide answers

Frances Gould, LaBauve, Randy, Blanchard, Tobie M., Gautreaux, Craig  |  10/28/2014 7:59:27 PM

Figure 1 on-farm demo

On-farm demonstration programs have been around in Louisiana since Seaman A. Knapp’s rice demonstration plots in southwest Louisiana more than 100 years ago. Today that tradition continues as AgCenter agents plant verification fields for crops such as rice, cotton and corn across the state to determine which varieties and hybrids perform best.

"These on-farm demonstrations are real-world teaching tools for agents, consultants, dealers and agribusiness reps that allow them to better serve Louisiana’s agricultural base," said AgCenter soybean specialist Ronnie Levy.

"Although the objective of these on-farm demonstrations is to demonstrate to clientele that research the AgCenter produces is valid, we often learn additional facts related to the research objectives because of the large numbers of demonstrations and the varying geographic locations in which they are conducted," Levy said.

In addition to on-farm yield trials, the AgCenter research stations test commercial corn, soybean, sorghum, wheat and oat hybrids and varieties entered in the state yield trials by private seed companies.

"This year, we had trials at the Central, Dean Lee, Iberia, Macon Ridge, Northeast, Red River and Rice research stations," said Boyd Padgett, director of the AgCenter Central Region. "The results are published for each crop every year to allow growers to select the hybrids or varieties that are adapted to their individual farms." 

On-farm demonstrations play a critical role in showing that new soybean technology generated by the LSU AgCenter is applicable to the farm and can increase profits.

Besides evaluating yield, these demonstrations may include fertilizer rates and timings, use of lime, planting dates and use of new equipment. Levy said they also look at disease and nematode control, insect control, irrigation methods, tillage methods and harvesting techniques among other practices.

Demonstrations are also used to address issues that develop during the production year.

"Having the flexibility to design demonstrations to answer critical questions in a timely manner is invaluable to producers," Levy said.

Across the state, state corn specialist Dan Fromme has 15 sites that include from 12-16 corn hybrids. Six seed companies are represented in the trials.

The primary traits Fromme is evaluating are yield, bushel weight, disease susceptibility and insect resistance. Other issues include soil types and irrigation.

Fromme expects to have his data from the verification program available in September. Results will be posted on the AgCenter website, www. lsuagcenter.com, and will be presented at winter grower meetings.

The AgCenter conducted core block wheat variety trials on farms in Franklin, Tensas, Caddo, St. Landry, Point Coupee and Beauregard parishes.

"In the past, wheat work was focused in the southern regions, but we made an effort to get all four corners of the state covered," said Josh Lofton, LSU AgCenter agronomist at the Macon Ridge Research Station.

"These trials allow producers to evaluate how new varieties perform in their production environment," Padgett said. Yield data are collected on each variety, as well as disease reactions when diseases are present, he said. Diseases present in some trials this year included bacterial streak, leaf rust, stripe rust and scab. Researchers are evaluating results from harvesting 12-17 wheat varieties.

Grain Sorghum
Each year, the top issue for grain sorghum may be determining the best hybrids. The 2014 sorghum trials were located at the Rice Research Station in Crowley, Dean Lee Research Station in Alexandria, the Northeast Research Station in St. Joseph, the Central Research Station in Baton Rouge, the Macon Ridge Research Station in Winnsboro and the Red River Research Station in Shreveport.

"The fungicide component is the big change this year from last," said AgCenter agronomist Rick Mascagni Another objective of the research is evaluating optimum nitrogen rates on alluvial clay soils. "We want to ensure our recommended application rates are correct for new hybrids," Mascagni said.

Grain sorghum demonstration plots were grown in Concordia, St. Landry and Avoyelles parishes this year with seven hybrids on plots ranging from 7-14 acres, according to AgCenter agronomist Josh Lofton.
Tobie Blanchard, Craig Gautreaux and Randy LaBauve

This article was published in the 2014 Louisiana Soybean & Grain Research & Promotion Board Report.

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