Technology Helps Transform NC State Agricultural Tests

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October 10, 2018 | Dee Shore

Changes are underway with NC State Extension’s Official Variety Testing Program – changes designed to provide North Carolina growers with faster access to more robust data on how different varieties perform across the state.

Gone are the OVT’s signature Green Books, printed packets of tables that had been produced for decades. Gone is a minimalist approach to managing the plots. And going is farm equipment that dates back to the 1980s.

In their place: A website to communicate test results to growers earlier than ever. Intensive plot management to better mirror the farmers’ actual practices. Modern tractors and combines that use GPS technology to manage the plots more precisely. And drones to capture more and different kinds of data.

Ryan Heiniger, of NC State University’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, directs the program. Funded by companies that pay to have their corn, soybean, wheat and small grain varieties tested at sites throughout the state, the OVT measures the performance of hundreds of varieties over the course of a growing season, then reports results to farmers, seed companies and county extension agents.

Find out more.