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
  • early emergence of seedlings
  • humus formation in rhizosphere
  • top growth
  • earliness of tiller development
  • thickness of stem base
  • tolerance to climatic factors
  • quality of produce
  • yield

Every Results 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?

  • 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.


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.


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.


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.


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 :

  • 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

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

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.

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