Demonstration + Evaluation Trial Protocols and Guidelines

Thank you for considering your participation in an RLF Product Trial and Evaluation program.

From years of experience RLF understands that Trials are often variable and unpredictable. In order to better manage Trials we have come up with this preface, which is based on our experience with Trials over the past 25 years. RLF has conducted hundreds of Demonstration and Evaluation Trials all over the world, and in a wide variety of crops and cropping environments. RLF has also sanctioned dozens of Independent Replicated Trials that are, by and large, conducted by scientists in the government institutions.

There are however many factors that can influence the outcome of the Trials even if we design and run a Trial accurately and with acceptable standards. It is to this end that the GUIDELINES FOR DEMONSTRATION TRIALS document is prepared.

Role and Expectations

We want to work with you to assist in achieving the objectives of your particular Demonstration and Trial program. It is therefore important that you establish your expectations and what it is that you want to achieve before you design and conduct the Trial.

But what does this actually mean ?

It means that together, we need to evaluate the type of results that you will consider as reasonable and ultimately successful, under the conditions that currently exist in your local area or region. For instance, if you have an expectation of a 100% yield increase, then even before we start we know we will fail to meet that expectation. It is simply an unreasonable expectation. Or, another example. If you have an expectation that you can reduce normal farmer practice core inputs to zero, then we know too that we will fail to meet that expectation.

All of these factors lead to an overall successful outcome for a Trial or Demonstration Evaluation program, because ultimately they provide incremental benefits not only for this crop, but for future cropping under similar conditions as well.

It is such a complete package of factors, outcomes and expectations that needs to be considered and managed according to your expectations.

RLF products are very predictable and reliable and will on average return consistent results.

It is incumbent on you however to establish what you consider to be:

  • 1. an expected outcome, or a goal to aim for
  • 2. the optimum conditions required for this outcome to be achieved
  • 3. the range of results that you will deem to be satisfactory
  • 4. the different evaluation factors throughout the Trial process that you will also consider to be valuable and satisfactory, such as :
  • root strength and bulk
  • thickness of stem base
  • early emergence of seedlings
  • tolerance to climatic factors
  • humus formation in rhizosphere
  • quality of produce
  • top growth
  • yield
  • earliness of tiller development

Every Result is Different

It is important to understand and acknowledge from the outset that every Trial is different. That there are many variables that impact upon a Trial or Demonstration Evaluation program, but they all contribute in some way to the final outcome.

What are these variables?

1. SOIL
  • the soil type and soil analysis information
  • subsoil structure and analysis
  • soil pH
  • soil salinity level
  • total nutrient reserves in soil (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium)
  • available level of all plant essential nutrients in soil
  • crop rotation cycle and previous crop
  • history of soil amending products used (e.g. lime, dolomite, gypsum, compost, animal manure)

Soil is one of the most variable aspects of your Trial program.

The best way therefore, is to start a Trial by carrying out a full range of soil tests to help understand and gauge the responsiveness of the Products being evaluated.

Here is an example :

Normal farmer practice is to apply nutrient for a known deficiency, meaning (for example) if the soil is known to be zinc deficient, then zinc would be applied. But, IF the soil already has plenty of zinc, then by adding more zinc it would have no, or little result, as the plant already has the ability to access an adequate supply of zinc.

Soil-field

Under these conditions it is expected that a Trial or Demonstration Evaluation to assess the role of a zinc fertiliser would not have a positive outcome, since the Product is made to perform but there is no zinc deficiency in the crop to be corrected.

Standard soil tests from 0-10cm for field crops and 0-25cm for vegetable and fruit crops is general practice in the industry that supplies most of the required information. It may however be required to do a subsoil test to ensure that other physical or chemical strains are not ignored if such factors are suspected.

2. SEED

Again, this variable is often overlooked.

Seeds are grown from different varieties and every year in different seasonal conditions therefore seed nutrients and reserves naturally vary. Whilst seed tests are not specifically recommended, the seed source and variability should be kept in mind when planning a Trial.

3. CONDITIONS

In every Trial the crop experiences vary with the seasonal conditions. These include :

  • Rainfall
  • Sunshine
  • Heat and Sunburn
  • Drought
  • Fungal Diseases
  • Insects
  • Wind
  • Frost

Whilst these are inherent in every Trial, the final outcomes and Trial data will obviously be a reflection of these conditions. It is therefore often difficult, or foolish, to match and consider every Trial as comparable. Variations in conditions must be noted, and if possible factored into your Trial expectations.

These factors however generally only 'come into play' when conditions are either very poor or extreme to the extent that they will differentiate from normal farmer expectations for the particular area or region. These conditions need to be :

  • monitored
  • recorded
  • photographed
  • compared with average conditions of the location
  • taken into account when evaluating the outcome of a Trial or Demonstration Evaluation program
rice_seeds BSN_Trial_Field

Establishing Application Rates

Application rates are established based on a number of requirements.

  • 1.Farmer understanding of the situation
  • 2.Plant yield
  • 3.History of nutrient input-output of the Trial site
  • 4.Extra cost of fertiliser is reasonable and acceptable by the grower
  • 5.Extra costs can be absorbed by cutback in granular fertiliser when soil inputs are thought to be excessive for the particular situation
  • 6.Application rates in view of the expected outcome and profit margins are acceptable

Reason for Trials

What is the reason for the Trial or Demonstration Evaluation ?

Generally, we consider the following :

  • 1. Marketing

    Trials are conducted to validate and provide support to the future sales and marketing of the Products into the marketplace. Therefore, Trials need to capture these aspects.

  • 2. Understanding
    • (a)how to apply and use the Product in local farmer area based on local farmer practice
    • (b)suitable application rates and methods based on local market conditions
    • (c)Product characteristics in the area such as roots, tillers, plant numbers and so on
    • (d)that Products work in the local area in conjunction with local conditions and practices
  • 3. Analysis/Results only

    To record results for analytical purposes only and to then use them for management approval for the commercialisation of RLF Products.

  • 4. Trials for Registration of Products

    Programs that require an expression of efficiency and efficacy to meet the regulatory framework before the Government will approve the Product for sale in a particular country or destination.

Hue_Saturation-2

RLF Products

RLF Products are generally very predictable and reliable. Given the years of Trials and research,
RLF Products can be expected to respond if the conditions are known.

RLF Products are mostly Broad-spectrum (i.e. 12 nutrients in a single Product) and will therefore be able to
'generically' handle most soil conditions and nutrient profiles to achieve a result. However results will vary,
depending on all the factors outlined previously in this Preface.

The science in RLF Products show that :

  • 1.an expected outcome, or a goal to aim for
  • 2.the optimum conditions required for this outcome to be achieved
  • 3.the range of results that you will deem to be satisfactory
Layer-143

Again, this variable is often overlooked.

Seeds are grown from different varieties and every year in different seasonal conditions therefore seed nutrients and reserves naturally vary.
Whilst seed tests are not specifically recommended, the seed source and variability should be kept in mind when planning a Trial.

RLF will work with you as you build your particular Trial or Demonstration Evaluation Program to suit the outcomes that you require.

We will assist you when you put the aims in the order of your preference such as :

  • 1.Registration
  • 2.Demonstration Trials for marketing
  • 3.Modifications of rates to learn more about the management of the crop
  • 4.Yield improvement
  • 5.Quality improvement
  • 6.Best economical fertiliser management
  • 7.Application rates under limited budgetary conditions
  • 8.Early plant establishment
  • 9.Early harvest
  • 10.Better economical return
Layer-152

In this way the most suitable Trial or Demonstration Evaluation Program can be designed to demonstrate the RLF Product dynamics that you want to achieve.

Overview

RLF provides the following general Guidelines and Checklist to support you in the preparation and performance of RLF product evaluation trials.

Purpose and Objectives

  • 1
    Validation

    To validate RLF product performance in the local agricultural context.

  • 2
    Evaluation

    To evaluate RLF product using local area practice as the control measurement.

  • 3
    Economic

    To work out a local market pricing model by using this data to establish the most appropriate balance of price to market, dilution/application rates for the local context and conditions.

  • 4
    Marketing

    To generate data (results), picture and video images and documented observations and outcomes for use as marketing materials, presentation materials and the general marketing of the product to the local market.

2-1

Format

The format is a GUIDE ONLY. RLF will consent to any other reasonable format that applies credible guidelines/protocols, which will results in a fair evaluation and assessment of an RLF product in the local agricultural environment using local area practice.

Guidelines and General Requirements

1.Crop selection

Crops should be selected for trial that represent a cross-section of, or be a market relevant/dominant part of the local market.

  • local cropping methods and techniques, (including sowing procedures) should be represented in this selection
  • crops that represent the most relevant or economic advantage to the distributor partners markets should be represented in this selection

2.Select RLF Products

2-2

3.Choose a Location

A location should be selected (or multiple locations) that best represents the typical local area conditions and is considered as a representative site for the chosen crop type.

Some of the other items that should be done at this time are :

  • soil tests should be conducted on the chosen site and the location recorded
  • historic meteorological data of the site location should be recorded, particularly annual or seasonal rainfall and average temperatures
  • the location should be plotted (using GPS coordinates if possible), or charted on a map of the region
  • full location details recorded to include landholder name, field, district, state, county or province ID
  • photographs should be taken recording the location
  • any other relevant information that best describes the agricultural features of the location
2-3

4.Local Area Practice

Local area practices should be maintained and include such things as :

  • fertiliser rates considered typical to the local farmer practice
  • agricultural chemical practices considered normal and routine (mixing of compatible chemicals can also be included as part of the Trial if this represents normal local area practice)

5.Establish Trial Plots

Establish and facilitate individual trial plot parameters, insofar as they are suitable to bring about reliable and relevant data outcomes.

Trial plots should be :

  • equal in size, and where possible randomised plots provided for;
  • marked with in-ground markers so that the Control plot and the RLF product plot are clearly distinguished;
  • markers (if possible) should be seen and visible in all photographic and video results.

6.Sowing

  • sowing rates should be the same as those usually practised in the local area;
  • seeds from the same source and quality that are routinely used should be used.

7.Methodology

Trial Protocol is required to demonstrate.

  • A.Control :Area Fertiliser Practice
  • B.Variable :Area Fertiliser Practice + RLF Products Treatment
  • C.Optional:Reduced Area Fertiliser Practice (less 20%) + RLF Products Treatment
2-4
2-chart-1

8.Timing of Assessments

(Days after Planting, DAP)

  • 05 DAP
  • 10 DAP
  • 20 DAP
  • 30 DAP
  • 40 DAP
  • 50 DAP
  • 60 DAP
  • 70 DAP
  • HARVEST YIELD

9. Sampling & Measurement/Observation List

SOIL

Samples of the soils in each evaluation trial plot should be tested/analysed and recorded.

Measure

  • pH
  • nutrient status

SEED

Samples of seeds (30 grams) from before product application/sowing are to be kept to provide seed analysis between that of the local area seed (Control) and the Seed Primer-treated seed.

SEEDLING RATE

Measure

  • plant height
  • root length and root mass
  • number of established seedlings per square metre

Observe

  • notes of observations as to size and health at emergence
  • photograph a sample selection of seedlings from each plot to show leaf, root and emergence results
1

PLANT STAGE

Measure

  • plant height
  • root length and root mass
  • tiller numbers (record weekly for up to 40 DAP)
  • leaf numbers (record weekly for up to 40 DAP)

Observe

  • root growth : size, length of main roots, general root mass structure, organic matter and microbial activity differences
  • plant growth : comparative number and size and general leaf cover
  • generic : colour and visual differences, or any other unrecorded differences
demo-2
Note: Use photographs to show differences in these observations

FRUITING STAGE

Measure

  • flower/fruit/grain numbers, size, colour and measurements

Observe

  • general comparative differences
demo-3
Note: Use photographs to show differences in these observations

Harvest

Measure

  • yield results (number, weights and quality)

Observe

  • any visual differences in quality
demo-4
Note: Use photographs to show differences in these observations

10.Collecting Data

A chronological record of all activities should be kept in either an official log or in the Checklist. It will contain such things as :

DATES

  • seeding date
  • any chemical spraying dates
  • product application date

CONDITIONS

  • meteorological data and weather conditions
  • any stresses or disease issues that arise throughout the Trial (i.e. drought, frost, extreme heat, water-logging)

OBSERVATIONS

  • in-field practices
  • additional observations

11.Product Evaluation Report & Product Promotion

A formal Product Evaluation Report will be produced and published at the conclusion of the Demonstration and Evaluation Trial.

It may be published as a printed report or be website based. Parts of it may be utilised in allied or cross-promotional publications. It will be a professional and high-value presentation and publication. It can be used by the Distributor as part of their promotional and marketing activities when bringing RLF product to the market.

12.Methods of Recording

  • written
  • photographic evidence (digital or video) taken - and importantly, dated at regular intervals throughout the Trial

13.RLF Product Application Rates

Standard, published RLF rates of dilution / application in accordance with current documentation and practices.

The application rates of RLF products can be adjusted in each evaluation trial to balance the economics of the products used. This ensures a combination of both affordability and economic advantage and return for the farmer or landholder.

These adjustments can only be made:

  • based on local market knowledge
  • with a prior evaluation in order that the best application guidelines for the adjusted trial experiment can be established

Please see: Application Rates + Methods tab above

Other :

Please refer to product dilution and application rates for other RLF products or request details from RLF Technical Services.

RLF Seed Priming products such as BSN Superstrike and BSN Ultra cannot be evaluated in petri dish/filter paper tests.

Petri dish/filter paper testing fails because the acidity in the seed primer, albeit in a small amount, strongly influences the pH of this media type as it is wetted with deionized or distilled water which has zero buffering capacity.

The growth of radicles and roots during germination is very sensitive to Calcium ion which is offset strongly by acidity or Hydrogen ion. Thus the impact of the lack of Calcium ion in the water used in these types of test (filter paper tests) is intensified by the acidity of the primed seed and as a result any comparison with a control test is not only unfair but the result is fallacious.

The comparison of a BSN primed seed V control can only take place in soil. This is not only for the above-said pH and Calcium contrasts, but also for the subsequent interactions that occur between root and soil that does not happen in petri dish/filter paper tests.

These interactions play an important role in the seedling establishment and vigour and by and large all of which do not occur in petri dish/filter paper testing; these interactions are as follows:

caution
  • 1.The presence of Calcium and the balance of other ions that occur in soil tests allows for radicle emergence and seedling growth to occur normally in the soil and will therefore broadly resembles normal events that occur following farm-sown seeds. (normal farmer practices)
  • 2.A key functions of BSN seed primer is the modification of the rhizosphere and the complex interactions occurring between the root system and the soil. To exclude such inter actions in trial evaluations is deviating from the practical function and resulting benefit of seed priming.
  • 3.A BSN primed seed will have higher levels of phosphate that reaches the radicle and is also exuded from the roots of treated seedlings. This will quickly instigate rapid multiplication of bacteria in the root rhizosphere however this event does not happen in petri dish/filter paper tests.
  • 4.The increase in bacterial activity in the root rhizosphere stimulates passive exudation of organic molecules (bacteria food) and increases the momentum of organic matter/humus build up around the root system in soil.
  • 5.Increased availability of nutrients resulting from seed priming and the better root ability to unlock and absorb minerals from the soil make a striking contrast between control and treated or primed seed only if germination occurs in soil.
  • 6.Testing in a soil medium is an absolute requirement to ensure that the seed priming benefits occur and then compared and simulated to assess the on farm benefits.
  • 7.Distinguishing vigour characteristics of primed seed versus untreated seed is easily manageable in soil testing and not comprehensively managed in petri dish/filter paper testing.
  • 8.Under certain conditions that surface acidity of treated primed seed is neutralized, (eg. dusting of a treated primed seed with alkaline products like lime and ‘fluency powder’) petri dish/filter paper testing may provide a quick results for a percentage of germination (and perhaps limited vigour comparison) but this type of testing has no evaluation of the follow-up benefits of seed priming that occurs in the soil as described above.
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For more Information please contact RLF Technical Services
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