A Farmer’s Guide to On-Farm Trials

Reader Contribution by Organic Seed Alliance
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The Organic Seed Alliance (OSA), alongside University of Wisconsin-Madison, eOrganic, and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), have released their latest publication, The Grower’s Guide to Conducting On-farm Variety Trials. With the release of this new guide, farmers can teach themselves how to conduct their very own on-farm variety trials, helping small farms across the country to become even more self-sufficient, and keep up with larger corporation farms.

This new guide functions as a comprehensive update to OSA’s On-farm Variety Trials: A Guide for Organic Vegetable, Herb, and Flower Producers, originally published in 2007. The latest version released includes updated instructions and trials to help make conducting on-farm trials easier for farmers than ever before. These new and updated trials are simple yet scientific to ensure that farmers are getting the best results in the easiest way possible. These updated instructions easily walk readers through planning, implementing, evaluating, and interpreting a variety trial on their own.

“This guide has what novice and expert farmers need for planning trials. It provides a process, key questions, and basic scientific approaches to make your time with trials worthwhile for your specific farm, labor arrangements, and interests,” says Kat Becker of Cattail Organics in Athens, Wisconsin.

For farmers, learning the different traits of the climate and soils that affect their farm can mean so much more than just helping them meet regulations. Understanding the different climate and soil varieties happening on their specific farm and in their region will help them to become more productive in the future, boosting economic efficiency and long-term sustainability.

This guide is to only useful for farmers, but also benefits non-profit programs who are interested in training farmers as co-researchers.

Additionally, project partners have developed the Variety Trial Tool, a new online resource for farmers to use to plan their trials, as well as store and manage the data they have collected. This tool can be accessed easily online for farmers to use.

With this updated guide now viable, farmers will be able take their farm testing into their own hands and learn more about the climate and soil verities that affect their farms on a daily basis.


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