With its second harvest on the books, results from the University of Kentucky Soybean Management Verification Program show that UK College of Agriculture recommendations have an economic advantage over field-management practices some farmers use.

UK agronomists began the Kentucky Soybean Board-funded study two years ago. Their purpose was to see how UK recommendations held up against farmer practices in large-scale plots under typical field conditions in western Kentucky.

UK crop specialists conduct research and develop grower recommendations based on small, controlled plots and to a lesser extent, on larger field plots. However, fields across the state have different soil types, and at times, different conditions than the test plots. Farmers generally are a little skeptical of small-plot research and how it will apply on their fields.

Chad Lee, UK grain crops specialist, and Jason Sarver, UK agronomist, work with farmers well before planting season to identify fields, conduct soil tests and make fertilizer recommendations. With field sizes between 30 and 80 acres, Sarver asked farmers to apply UK recommendations on half the field and use their normal soybean management practices on the other half. This allowed for side-by-side comparisons of the two management practices.

"This study not only allows us to test the effectiveness of our recommendations in large field plots, but we also get to see what producer practices work well," Sarver said. "They are learning from us, and we're learning from them."