Guide to Field Experimentation

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 Innovative ideas in agriculture come from farmers, researchers, and people in agribusiness. Field experiments can be used to test and refine these ideas, and to transfer new developments from the innovators to the farm public.

There are two basic types of field experiments: applied research experiments and demonstrations.

  • Applied research experiments
    The goal of applied research is to provide data to support existing knowledge, fill information gaps or develop new methods. An applied research study is a major commitment. It requires proper study design, management, data collection and analysis to obtain statistically sound results. It can have demonstration value, but that is not the emphasis of the design, nor generally the main objective.

    Applied research experiments can involve any aspect of farming, such as crop production, livestock production, soil and water conservation, machinery and economics. Research associations, producer groups and agricultural service boards often establish applied research sites to collect meaningful data for their local area.

  • Demonstrations
    The goal of demonstrations is to show people how a practice or product works under local conditions. Demonstrations do not require detailed measurements to assess their results. The results are usually clear from visual observation. The effect of the practice to be demonstrated can be predicted before the project is carried out and there is little chance that the results will be other than predicted. Demonstrations can involve such topics as the effectiveness of a piece of equipment or methods for growing a new crop variety suited to the local area.
This guide describes the components of an action plan for conducting a field experiment. It explains how to maximize the demonstration value of an applied research experiment and provides ideas on how to collect some reliable data from a demonstration. The appendix gives examples of applied research and demonstration topics.

Other Documents in the Series

  Guide to Field Experimentation - Current Document
Guide to Field Experimentation: Planning a Field Experiment
Guide to Field Experimentation: Site Location
Guide to Field Experimentation: Project Implementation
Guide to Field Experimentation: Data Collection
Guide to Field Experimentation: Awareness and Technology Transfer
Guide to Field Experimentation: Evaluating Effectiveness of Awareness
Guide to Field Experimentation: Reporting
Guide to Field Experimentation: Summary and Conclusions
Appendix: Examples of Applied Research and Demonstration Topics
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Len Kryzanowski.
This document is maintained by Laura Thygesen.
This information published to the web on May 4, 2004.
Last Reviewed/Revised on October 10, 2018.