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
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?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.
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