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Research Highlights

Research Highlights
Research to determine benefit of seed treatment

Dr. David Ferguson, Murray State University researcher and professor, is shown here planting soybean plots for seed treatment research funded by the KSPB.

By Jenni Parrent, Kentucky Soybean Association & Promotion Board

Last year, Dr. David Ferguson, Murray State University re­searcher and professor, began a project with the purpose of evaluating the benefits of seed treatments. In total, there were eight different varieties of treatments, including a systemic fungicide type, a second fungicide type, a systemic insecticide type, a plant defense activator treatment, a lipo-chitooligosaccharide with inoculant treatment and two treat­ments with a combination of products plus a control treatment. The eight treatments were replicated six times. In addition to recording the effects of seed treatments, the research team also monitored the stand count, disease and insect pests in the plots to study for the responses to the various seed treatments.

The 2011 project was conducted at two university locations, the Hutson Farm and the Pullen Farm, and was harvested in two ways, hand harvest and combine harvest. The table of re­sults reflects how each treatment, location and harvest yielded.

Dr. Ferguson explained that the results from the 2011 study were not exactly what they had anticipated.

“Originally, we had expected to see some kind of variation between the different seed treatments; however, research re­sults showed that none of the seed treatments had statistically higher yields than control treatments,” said Ferguson.

The table also shows how a statistical analysis was run between all the yields at both locations and found no difference between treatments or locations.

He clarified that although the 2011 results showed no sig­nificant difference between treatments, these results were too fundamental to draw any recommendations from.

“The 2011 project allowed us to develop a foundation for this year’s project. We will continue to monitor the results of the seed treatments, as well as the disease and insect pests. If this year’s results appear to be the same, it will allow us to better understand the benefits of seed treatments,” said Ferguson.

The project for this year is underway, and results are expected to build on those received from the project last year. The project will test the same treatments’ at the same Hutson Farm location to better gauge the seed treatments significance for Kentucky soybean farmers.

“In 2012, we expect to see some different results. We’ve learned some things to improve our research on this project that will provide us with better results,” commented Ferguson. “We will continue to study our preliminary findings to better understand just how seed treatments affect the farmers.”

Susan Camp, a graduate student researcher who worked on the 2011 project, said “Last year’s project allowed us to learn things that will help us improve this year’s research.”

She went on to explain that they have changed the layout of the testing plots to prevent certain treatments from washout and to expand the rows and alleys to reduce plant loss.

Murray State University offers graduate students opportunities to work on research projects like these in order to gain a better understanding of what they are studying and actual hands on experience. Camp said, “The experience I have received through this assistantship is something that I would have never gotten if it wasn’t for the support of the Kentucky Soybean Promotion Board (KSPB). I am very grateful for this opportunity.” KSPB continually strives to invest farmer checkoff dollars in areas that will result in a high return on investment. Research is one of the major area where KSPB can invest and directly see a result. It is the goal of the board to fund projects that will allow Kentucky farmers to improve their current practices in order to be more profitable.