The Bean-booster plots sponsored by the Tippecanoe County Extension Service, Purdue University's Throckmorton Ag Center, and Indiana Prairie Farmer, are finally underway. Jeff Phillips, Tippecanoe County Extension agent, supervised preparation and planting of the plots on May 10.
Goal of the plots is to help discover what it might take to break through the next level of better yield for soybeans. The plots were started several years ago. Each treatment in the plot is replicated four times.
In fact, each treatment is analyzed even further in this year's set-up. Phillips, who completed graduate studies on soil fertility many years ago, and who was an assistant in Agronomy at Purdue before moving to Extension many years ago, decided to provide a control for each plot inside of each rep.
"We normally have 15-foot wide plots, about 125-feet long," he explains. That's handy since the plots are drilled with a 15-foot John Deere drill, equipped with SI metering cups. "So this year I decided to treat half the width, 7.5 feet, in each strip, and leave the other half as a control. So each treatment has a check to compare to right next door," he says.
That's true for all plots except the high population entry. Since the drill couldn't be shut off by halves, the entire 15-foot width is planted at high population. Standard planting population in the plot was 175,000 seeds per acre. The high population treatment was seeded at 350,000 seeds per acre.
Twenty possible treatment strips are in each replication. The entire first planting of the experiment covers about 4 acres, Phillips notes. With the set-up used this year, he can pull out all of one treatment, say fungicide, for example, and have built-in comparisons for that factor.
Key treatment decisions on what to look at this year were based heavily on what's showed up with potential for bumping yields in the past, Phillips says. Fungicides did well in the '06 plot, even though only one treatment in that plot, fungicide applied over the top at the proper time, was significantly different from anything else in the plot. Several other treatments involving fungicide approached a significant level of difference. Fungicide, likely an application of Headline in the reproductive stage, will be tried again this year. Last year's plots were planted on June 5. The delay was caused by unfavorable planting conditions linked to weather issues in the area a year ago.
Another comparison is untreated seed, vs. seed treated with fungicides, vs. seed treated with fungicides plus an insecticide. The insecticide included the active ingredient from Cruiser. It's a proprietary treatment applied by Stewart Seeds, Greensburg. Stewart Seeds supplied all the seed for this study.