From Regional Agronomist Wayne Flanary:

“If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.” There are a lot of products in the market place, so how do you determine if the product information is reliable?

Many advertisements make claims that a product will increase yields. In grower meetings, some sales persons will suggest that the University’s research is out-dated. As I have listened to the salesperson, my response is, “We have tested the product, it did not work, and so we moved on to test other products.” By the way, there is compilation of product testing research from many different Universities that we have access to.

But, how do we securitize other information? There are a lot of field trials that are talked about indicating yield increases. Maybe, we should ask several questions. How was the field experiment conducted? Did the test have replication? Was the test conducted at one site or multiple sites? Are the yield results all positive?

In crop field testing, there is always some negative yields. Be suspicious if all the results imply that all were positive yield response.

Also, many growers use split fields to test differences. However, with split fields, we do not have the confidence to determine whether the differences are due to the treatment effect and or to chance. Often, depending how the field was split, there may be differences in soils, drainage, past fertilizer applications, crop history of which all can be misleading. Replication allows us to determine how much variability exists and helps us determine if the result is from chance or actual treatment.

Products may be used in another part of the country, and then a company will try to market the product in our location. Check the test data and determine where the tests were conducted. Soils and environment change as we move outside of Missouri in all directions.

There are many new products that enter the market place each year. Many of these provide benefits. Screen products carefully to determine which may benefit your operation.
For more information, contact Wayne Flanary at 660-446-3724 or Heather Benedict at 660-425-6434, Regional Agronomists, University of Missouri Extension.