PFI cooperators make their own decisions on what trials are to be done, so it’s not surprising that there are some “one of a kind” trials. The Dordt College Agricultural Stewardship Center, for example, is located near Sioux Center, an area with many dairy farms. The Center carried out two corn variety trials in 1993, one for silage and one for grain (Table 4). They were interested in seeing if the waxy varieties, not usually grown in Sioux County, would perform as well as others, which they did.
Ted and Donna Bauer, Audubon, continued two trials they have carried out before (Table 6). They compared purchased soybean seed to seed they grew and cleaned themselves. As in 1992, the seed that was saved back yielded as well and was more economical than purchased seed of the same variety.
The Bauers also repeated a comparison of corn harvest dates. Ted combined strips through the field every 48 rows on October 15. Then on November 4, after three weeks of good drying weather, he harvested strips halfway between the previous harvest areas. Whereas in 1991 late-harvested corn was more profitable, in 1993, ear drop and stalk rot combined to make late harvest less desirable by almost $7 per acre.
Jeff and Gayle Olson, Winfield, raised corn with and without 9 pounds per acre of ForceTM rootworm insecticide (Table 6). They did not scout the previous year’s corn, so they did not know what to expect for insect pressure. The corn without insecticide yielded 9.2 bushels less, more than justifying the cost of insecticide.
Tom and Irene Frantzen repeated their evaluation of the rotational effects of grain amaranth (Table 6). In 1992 trials, soybeans following amaranth had performed as well as following corn, but corn following amaranth grew unevenly and yielded much less than corn following soybeans. In 1993, however, no such difficulties were encountered. Corn following corn required additional nitrogen, which the Frantzens supplied in manure, but it still did not yield as well as corn following amaranth. The information from these trials will be very useful as more growers begin to integrate amaranth into their cropping systems.
Repeating trials like these, far from indicating a lack of creativity, shows that cooperators have a lasting commitment to addressing some basic questions. Many questions in farming can’t be answered in a single trial. A variety of years and sites are required to discover the range and reliability of a practice or response. Especially when weather and other changeable factors are involved, patience and persistence pay off.