Agricultural experimentation in labs, greenhouses and small plots continues to evolve with more precise ways to measure and evaluate new technologies. This very same technology has the potential to make large on-farm trials more informative not only to growers, suppliers and advisors, but also to researchers.

The purpose of conducting field trials with a new product is to generate information in conditions to emulate on-farm future use in a variety of weather and field conditions. Up to this point, the control of experimental error relied on replicated small plot trials conducted on numerous locations over many seasons. More locations, seasons and replications translate into a better understanding of the applied treatment effect and, consequently, a better prediction of the true value of the technology.
In Giuditta Parolini’s published article, Charting the History of Agricultural Experiments, he says, “Even though the questions underpinning agricultural experiments remain largely the same, the instruments and practices for answering them have changed constantly during the twentieth century with the advent of new disciplines like molecular biology, genomics, statistics, and computing.”

Now in the age of precision agriculture, agricultural field experimentation will continue to evolve as technology provides more real-time and spatial measurement tools. Sensors, imagery and sampling methods will increase the quality and number of measurements allowed, improving the accuracy and predictability of the assessments.
Innovative analytics bring together all the information gathered to determine when and how the new technology provides its best results. Additionally, the analytics improve the grower experience, not only regarding the new product, but also about their own farm. To take the large-scale, on-farm trials to a new analytical level is why AgriThority® launched TrialWerx — to transform data into value.

“TrialWerx allows us to measure additional layers of information, like weather and soil, as well as the field history,” said Gloverson Moro, AgriThority Chief Technology Officer. “It may now be overlaid with the field trial data, allowing additional correlations to be drawn and providing new opportunities for insights. Finally, all that wealth of data can be brought together through new analytical methods, powered by computational biology, building knowledge and innovative insights.”
Kevin and Jeff O’Bannon, Monroe County, Missouri, farmers have seen the results of TrialWerx on their farm. They say, “We’ve never learned as much from our on-farm trials as we did with AgriThority and their TrialWerx.”Large scale, on-farm trials for farmer and dealer experiences are an important component for a successful technology transfer and product launch. The close evaluation of new technologies under farm conditions offers opportunities to detect unexpected operational issues not observed in previous product development stages and reduces the risks during commercial launch.

“The most important thing about large-scale trials is farmers, agronomists and distributors gain hands-on experience,” said Luke Samuel, Ph.D. AgriThority Global Director, Technology Transfer. “This engagement of the “supply-chain” is a key component for successful technology transfer and commercial success. Growers listen to other growers, but their advisors or dealers also are persuasive in the decision-making process.”
The AgriThority experts agree that most on–farm trials are conducted as demonstration fields, and they stop short of delivering the full story and full value. Without true experimental design and management, these large-scale trials offer some experience but often without insights on where and how the new product will best perform. Samuel says the development of Best Management Practices for new technologies is crucial for the long-term successful use and full adoption by growers.
“Collecting a single average yield of a large plot does not produce new insights and often does not generate meaningful benefits for the growers,” says Ignacio Colonna, AgriThority Global Director, Science and Technology. “Technology provides an opportunity to transform large-scale, on-farm trials into a source of valuable information and take the grower experience to a new level. Layers of digital information currently available allow the best placement and management of large scale on-farm trials. Precision agriculture technology tools allow the generation of temporal and spatial data series.”

The evolution of technology will continue transforming agricultural experimentation. The ability to collect information with greater precision and analyze large sets of data will increase the power of detecting new correlations and produce even deeper insights. The blooming advancement of computational biology also points to the increasing relevance of modeling in making the agriculture experimentation process even more powerful and predictable.

“Regardless of how much experimentation has evolved, the development discipline is a key requirement to building a successful product,” Moro said. “The most innovative concept will not translate into a great product unless a rigorous development path is followed. This is as much about process as it is about science. Having clarity on the path toward the target market, the technical development and the regulatory process is critical. Then translating that into a series of questions that must be answered and the order they must be addressed is essential. The urge to jump over critical steps frequently results in failure. Going faster does not mean going further.”
AgriThority® uses a disciplined, proven Prescriptive Response™ process to help develop new products. When your Research is ready for Development, turn to AgriThority for scientific product, business and market development expertise. As an independent global science resource, we focus on exploring potential, expanding market access, and evolving production for greater food security and sustainability.

About AgriThority
Founded in 2008 and with roots dating back to 1985, AgriThority moves agricultural innovations to market. Our seasoned, scientific global network serves as an independent and collaborative resource devoted to accelerating product, business, and market development. We help overcome regulatory challenges, manage product development process, and establish connections for market access. Learn more at https://www.AgriThority.com/.