Submitted by: Kelsey Banks, on behalf of Ottawa-Rideau Regional SCIA

At this point in time if you have a plot on your farm, you have planted or seeded it and watched or continue to watch it grow throughout the growing season. Now there is one last piece of the puzzle to complete — harvest. Harvesting a plot is like harvesting a full field, but the main goal is to obtain accurate data from the plot to then be able to move on to crop planning for the next season.

The main difference between harvesting a plot versus a full field is that each strip essentially represents a different field. Thus, each strip should be treated as a different field. Here are four tips for harvesting the results of your on-farm plot so you can get the quality data you are looking for:

1. Planning ahead

For the fields that do not have a plot in them, most growers tend to do their best if they plan when they think they will be harvesting the crops, what equipment is required, and what people power they may need. Although it is a lot of work and does take time, it is important to do this for plot harvesting as well. Typically, harvesting a plot is best done with a minimum of three people—a combine operator, a weigh wagon operator, and a grain buggy driver. It is very valuable for all assisting with plot harvest to take notes throughout. For those with access to digital agronomic tools, it may be easier to put notes in a tool you use. Even just being able to write notes down on paper may be easiest for all.

2. Using a weigh wagon

Although many digital agronomic tools track yield data throughout the field, it is still beneficial to also use a weigh wagon. Sometimes finding a weigh wagon to use can be difficult, but try reaching out to your local crop input supplier or talk to your local OSCIA members to find one. The main goal of taking the time to plant the plot was so you could get the most accurate data. The data that you may be getting from a digital agronomic tool may be the same as you are seeing from the weigh wagon, but it is best to make use of what you have access to. Using a weigh wagon will help confirm the data your digital agronomic tool may be collecting.

3. Keeping notes

From a digital agronomic tool you may be using or from the weigh wagon, you are tracking yield. Although yield is very important, there are other considerations to be made about the crop inputs that you are testing in your on-farm plot. Is combining easy? Are you having to go very slow? Is it too short or just the right height? There are many notes that should be taken regarding each strip that is harvested from all parties involved.

4. Analyzing the data

During harvest it is difficult not to compare and analyze the data you are collecting. If you keep notes, confirm the yield with a weigh wagon and a digital agronomic tool that you may have access to, and plan for plot harvest, you will have a lot of numbers and commentary to read through. That is okay, that is what you want! Do not stress on this. You now have good, quality data for that field on your farm, and that was the goal.

 Photo courtesy of Leigh Hudson-Templeton, Territory Manager for Maizex, of an on-   farm variety comparison plot near Kinburn                    

Imagine that your on-farm plot harvest is completed, and you now have data and commentary from planting, during the growing season, and harvest sitting in front of you. Now, you can start to analyze the data. If you prefer having someone assist you with organizing this data, your agronomist may be a great person to work with.

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