Identifying the right research question is the most important part of research. For many questions, unbiased information may already be available. For others, start by identifying a “yes” or “no” question that you would like to answer for your operation. For example, a research question might be “Does applying a fungicide in corn at V5 increase yield?”
In selecting a research question, ask yourself:
- Will field trials provide the kind of information and verification I need or is there a better approach?
- Do I have the equipment and other resources to implement the trial well?
- Do I have field sites appropriate for doing a good test of the product or practice, realizing research often is designed to address specific problems or opportunities? For example, a corn nematode infestation would be needed to evaluate control products.
- Do I know the field history? If you’re interested in comparing different phosphorous rates in a field, it would be helpful to know if the field had a history of manure application.
- What are the expectations of the product or practice and can the needed measurements be made?
To answer your question, on-farm research compares two or more treatments in the field.