digital agriculture

Field trial management in the age of agtech

Field trial management in the age of agtech- making order from oceans of data

Proper management of farmland is crucial to keep the business profitable.  Modern farming is no longer just about producing crops.

Today’s farmers and landowners must address myriad issues including farm planning, weather forecasting, research, soil management, seed production, storage, supply chain operations, and many other points.

In order to improve the farmer’s production systems, increase productivity, and profitability, field trials, and experiments are needed. Field trial experiments have been part of farming for centuries, as farmers sought new ways to optimize crop yields and use of resources by trying different methods. In the past, farmers relied on intuition and historical knowledge of their land to make major decisions.

Today, cutting-edge agriculture field trial management tools enable farmers to test new practices, equipment, and materials to maximize farm productivity and validate the effectiveness of innovations on their own land, where climate and soil conditions may be subject to unexpected shifts. 

What are field trials and why are they so important? 

Field trials are tests conducted in laboratories or onsite to test new products and processes. They serve as a crucial tool for documentation of product development and testing new technology in agriculture.

They enable farmers to gauge new products and follow their performance according to preset parameters. These trials, which can be carried out onsite or at controlled facilities, have the ability to yield vast amounts of data from various sources and in many configurations. 

That having been said, agricultural data silos have traditionally been used to separately store financial, crop, and inventory information drawn from field trials. Even the very best researchers can be challenged by the volume, diverse formats, and difficulties analyzing, integrating, interpreting, and making use of non-standardized agricultural Big Data. Due to this lack of interconnectivity and standardization, farmers are unable to synthesize data into coherent information, derive insights from other trials, and understand what works and where.    

Additionally, while on-farm field trials and experiments produce key data, if performed incorrectly they can introduce errors leading to incorrect results. They must be standardized and validated in order to provide actionable insights.

Challenges facing field trials

Aside from the technological challenges mentioned above, field trials currently face other major constraints and difficulties such as

  1. Data preservation during Field Trials including the systematic collection of data in a digital form.
  2. Difficulty setting up Field Trials in a way that leads to conclusive insights.
  3. The challenging complexity involved in coordinating Field Trials’ “moving parts” – technicians, personnel, equipment, and budget.
  4. The lack of standardized methods and procedures – personnel might use different notations and names. 
  5. Dissemination of the protocols needed in each trial.
  6. Planning and implementing statistical experimental designs.
  7. Analysis of data from multiple trials- the complexity of gathering data in one location followed by analysis on another platform.
  8. Collection, integration, and preservation of data layers from disparate sources including manual observations, IoT sensors, weather stations, etc.

What makes field trial management crucial?

Field trials provide you with huge amounts of data. But how can you extract actionable data that will help you improve your farm’s performance? This is where the use of Field Trial Management tools helps you solve this problem.

While field trials provide crucial information, many questions arise. How do you sift through all the data collected in field trials and draw the information relevant to your specific project? How can you be sure that the data is even relevant to your needs? How do you know if data drawn from a field trial is reliable?

For a generic, external field trial to provide you with accurate projected outcomes, you must make sure that it was conducted in soil and a climate similar to your own. In order to achieve accurate results, uniformity must be maintained and variations avoided. While some field trials can provide you with relevant data, you must first examine validity and replication. 

For many farmers, the ultimate key to successful field trials lies in independent testing and scientific field trial management systems. Initiating reliable, scientific field trials may sound intimidating. 

Admittedly, you need to set up the testing process, eliminate the element of uncertainty, sift through large amounts of data, and analyze it effectively. You must also reveal anomalies, get actionable insights, and draw practical conclusions that will improve your yield and test product quality. 

But do you require professional researchers to manage your scientific trials? The answer is no! Today, the On-Farm Experimentation (OFE) movement strongly encourages farmers to conduct self-experimentation in their own fields. Using advanced automated tools farmers can independently turn mountains of data into practical steps that optimize yields, decrease waste and improve food quality.

young plants

AgTech solutions for field trial management

AgTech plays a central role in modern field trial management. Oceans of aggregated legacy data can be sifted and analyzed to provide sustainable and practical models. 

Using cutting-edge Ag-tech tools, automatic data ingestion leverages advanced crop data technology, engineering, and science. Large amounts of raw agronomic data can be preserved in a standardized, understandable language. 

This type of breakthrough technology provides farmers with previously unavailable opportunities. Using advanced Agtech solutions for field trial management, they can independently plan and administer experiments on their own land while digitally managing field trials from start to finish.

They can also consult agronomic databases and enrich their own agriculture data through multi-source integrations.

The agmatix platform for agronomic field trial management

The Agmatix technology platform provides you with an end-to-end project management system that enables you to scientifically plan and manage field trials. 

Agmatix places digital, user-friendly field trial management at your fingertips:

  • Create a holistic planning process.
  • Gather data easily with our agriculture field trial management data tool.
  • Run your own trials using experimental design methodologies, multiple treatment combinations, and on-map layout placing.
  • Receive status updates to keep your trial on track.
  • Get direct contact between researcher and field trial operator.
  • Acquire and standardize legacy data to enrich your information sources.
  • Aggregate and harmonize agronomic data from your trials to unlock previously unavailable actionable insights.

In this age of Agriculture 4.0, you can’t afford to rely on trial and error or guesswork. In the past, independent field trial management was almost unachievable for the average farmer. 

Today, the smart, AI-based technology incorporated in Agmatix’s platform provides you with easy and effective tools to manage customized scientific field trials to meet your particular needs.