John Kruse, LSU AgCenter corn specialist, said the intent of the demonstration program is to grow plots statewide, using most of the same varieties to allow an evaluation of performance on different soils and in different climates.
“Growers want to see how varieties will perform in their own backyards,” Kruse said.
The plots are planted and harvested by farmers, he said. “We’ll record the data at planting and harvest.”
Ron Levy, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist, said the 60 “core block” demonstrations, as they are called, are scattered across the state “from Lafourche Parish all the way up to West and East Carroll parishes.” The demonstrations show the differences in varieties and agricultural practices.
“We give farmers a firsthand view of how different research-based practices work at their locations,” Levy said.
For example, Levy demonstrated the effectiveness of several pre-emerge herbicides at a farm run by Joey Olivier near Henderson. In Concordia Parish, Levy and former County Agent Glenn Daniels demonstrated that varieties have different levels of susceptibility to salt damage from irrigation water high in salt.
Levy said farmers are most interested in variety core blocks because they can see how a wide spectrum of new varieties would perform in their farming operations. The LSU AgCenter sponsors field days at these farm locations, allowing other producers in the locale to see the varieties and decide if they have characteristics that would enhance their soybean production.
Other soybean demonstrations have included seeding rates, row spacing, date of planting, insecticides and fungicides.
Levy said most of the demonstration projects are initiated by county agents to answer production problems identified at producer advisory meetings. Decisions on projects for an upcoming planting season are usually made at a meeting in the fall, Levy said.
Results of the core block demonstrations are posted on LSU AgCenter’s soybean and corn Web pages under “extension demonstrations.”
Levy said the demonstration projects are the essence of extension programs in Louisiana and nationwide.
“The extension program was founded on result demonstrations,” Levy said. “People were able to see the benefits of proven research practices and not just told what works.”
Photo: Ron Levy talks about different soybean varieties during a field day at the LSU AgCenter Dean Lee Research and Extension Station in Alexandria.