In April, the Iowa Soybean Association dropped off 20 bags of soybean seed at Rolland Schnell’s farm near Sully, east of Des Moines.
The seeds are part of a checkoff-funded trial underway by ISA’s On-Farm Network; the seeds have been coated with Bayer’s ILeVo fungicide, which could increase yields.
But the trial will determine if yields really go up.
Schnell says, "I go into this with an open mind.”
On-Farm Network Field Research Specialist Brett McArtor says Schnell’s trial is just one of many this year, ”The seed treatment trials aren’t the only ones we do. We do insecticides - pesticides - herbicides, some fertilizers. So we really try to hit a broad range of trials for farmers to test out.”
Schnell says he may get a chance to start testing out his seeds as early as next week, provided the weather is friendly enough to begin planting soybeans.
”It’ll be a side-by-side comparison.” He says, ”And then it’ll be scouted throughout the season, and then harvested to see the results.”
Harvest isn’t quite the end of the line for Schnell’s beans; McArtor says there’s a few more steps to make the data usable, ”We’ll get the data from Rolland, his planting, and then his harvest data. We’ll take that, and we’ll lay those two maps over each other, and we’ll pull out the trial area. And then what we do from there is we’ll do a couple statistical tests on it, to see whether, statistically, the trial had any merit to it.”
After that, the data will be anonymized and added to a public database of trials and results on the On-Farm Network’s website.
Schnell says that’s the whole point of taking part in an On-Farm Network trial, ”Getting the information out to the farmer in a way that is easy for them to understand and read. And slowly but surely, as they see their neighbors better results by using this data, they will also do it, and we’re going to raise the needle for profitability for the soybean farmers in Iowa.”