Diary – experiment details from before sowing onward

Within the manual Protocols for experimental plot sampling, handling and processing of cereals in field experiments(external link) by G.J. Rebetzke (Greg.Rebetzke@csiro.au), A. van Herwaarden, B. Biddulph, C. Moeller, R. Richards, A. Rattey and K. Chenu.

It is of prime importance to report every event (management action, measurement date/time and action etc.) that is performed (ideally, as prescheduled), as well as any problem encounter (e.g. disease, frost event…). Documentation of site and experiment conditions, crop management (e.g. sowing rates, timing of treatments) and measurements are all critical. Access to all the available information will contribute to a greater understanding of those factors contributing to improved performance between environments and lines. We advice the reporting to be written in a single notebook (that can be scanned at the end of the experiment) or in an electronic document (-diary’ of the experiment). This document should also contain notes concerning the analysis of the trial, after the completion of the field experiment.

The recording of data of each experiment will commence before sowing with cultivation, nutrition, irrigation and herbicide application history, and continue until after harvest. These should be recorded electronically for ease of use and reporting.

a. Experiment preparation: site details including starting soil conditions {water (see Appendix 3(external link)), nutrient and pH (see Appendix 4(external link))}, rotation (eg. fallow vs canola), cultivation and herbicide application

b. Seed preparation: Sowing rates will vary depending on the experiment, available soil water, time of sowing, genotype etc. Details concerning seed size and quality (eg germination %) are always useful.

c. In experiment details: sowing date, dates of each measurement, timing of any fungicide/insecticide/herbicide application (and rates), any in-season fertiliser application, dates and amounts of water applied in irrigation (and type of irrigation), plot observations (eg rows missing or where fertiliser boots were blocked, large gaps in plots; Fig. 5)

d. Climate: dates and amounts of rainfall events, dates and minimum temperatures during any frost, record of any period of warm temperatures with moderate-to-high wind. Much of this will be recorded using automatic weather stations collocated at each site. However, observer notes can be invaluable when analysing and understanding unusual data well after harvest and the experiment has finished.

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Figure 5. (a) A canola break crop grown in preparation for an experiment the following season; (b) an arrow shows a blocked seed tube contributing to a missing row; (c) large gaps reduce harvestable plot area.
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Other resources

Appendix 1.(external link) Text description of phenological scale, Zadoks decimal code (DC).
Appendix 2.(external link) Picture description of phenological scale, Zadoks decimal code (DC).
Zadoks JC, Chang TT, Konzak CF (1974) A decimal code for the growth stages of cereals. Weed Research 14(6),415-421. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3180.1974.tb01084.x

Notes and troubleshooting tips


Download complete manual: Protocols for cereal field experiments_Nov2012.pdf

Health, safety & hazardous waste disposal considerations


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