The trials referenced in this review have continued beyond 2013.
Peer review by Dr Bert Quin
PhD Analytical Chemistry
Trials were conducted in 2013 on corn, cotton and soybeans at AgriCenter International’s field research facility near Memphis, Tennessee.
Yield and many other factors were compared using ‘Standard Farm Practice’ fertilizer applications for the particular crop with and without different versions of the BioAg proprietary product program. In the case of corn, two additional treatments, namely two versions of the BioAg program in the presence 15% lower than the ‘Standard Farm Practice’ nitrogen (N) application rates were included.
The trials appear to have been meticulously carried out, and fully analysed statistically.
The yield data were also subjected to cost-benefit analysis.
Overview of results
In all 3 crops, the addition of the various BioAg programs gave statistically significant, sizeable responses compared to the fertilizer alone treatment. Where it was tested (on corn), the BioAg treatment still produced more yield that fertilizer alone when the N application was reduced by 15%, although these increases in yield were lower than those achieved where BioAg treatment program was added to the full fertilizer program.
From these results, there is no doubt that the BioAg product application program increased yield of all three crops substantially. This carried over into significant financial returns on the BioAg product costs.
Comment on trial treatments and interpretation
From a purely scientific perspective, as opposed to the provision of advisory information, the trial treatment choices were somewhat disappointing, for the following reasons-
1. Absence of a ‘response curve’ of fertilizer applications, or even a no-fertilizer control treatment. Without this, it is impossible to know how responsive the sites were to fertilizer, and in particular, what increases in yield, and for what cost, could have been obtained by simply applying more fertilizer. The results for corn at ‘Standard’ vs ‘Standard-15% N application’ suggest that this crop was quite N-responsive around the ‘Standard’ application rates.
2. The choice of the 3 different BioAg programs for each crop unfortunately provided little additional information than would have been obtained with just one program. This is because each programs involved the application of 3 different BioAg products, some applied twice or three times. Only the BioAg program used for soybeans, in which the only variation was in the amount of ‘Soil and Seed’ applied, permitted drawing of tentative conclusions regarding which parts of the programs were producing which % of the response. The increasing response with increasing rates of ‘Soil and Seed’ strongly suggested that this component was the most effective, at least for soybeans.
3. The financial return analysis includes the cost of actual fertilizer and BioAg products themselves, not their application costs. It is not stated how many individual applications were made of BioAg products as opposed to combined products, but it is likely that application costs would have been sufficient to reduce financial returns of the BioAg program. This heightens the importance of establishing which applications of which BioAg products were providing the largest yield responses.
These aspects need to be taken into consideration prior to the next round of trials.
Director – Quin Environmentals
17 February 2014