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Soybean Variety Test Results Go On The Web
By Rhonda Whitmire
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Soybean farmers have relied on variety testing results for many years, and now they can view the latest results on the Internet.
Since 1982, the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station, in cooperation with Mississippi State University and the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board, has tested various soybean varieties. Farmers receive the results through MAFES and extension publications and by word of mouth.
Dr. Alan Blaine, extension soybean specialist at Mississippi State University, said farmers with Internet access also can read the test results at http://www.mafes.msstate.edu/beans/.
"Currently, the results of the soybean tests are the only results up to date on the web site," Blaine said. "The Soybean Promotion Board has been the driving force behind getting the latest results online."
Jimmy Summers, a farmer and chairman of the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board, said few farmers have online services, but the Internet is a growing source of information.
"We still use books, word of mouth and meetings to get information to farmers," Summers said. "But, some day it may be a great source of information for farmers."
Truett Bufkin, executive secretary of the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board, said while the Internet is not the No. 1 source, farmers are beginning to turn to the Internet for material.
"In the years to come, the Internet will be one of the greatest tools to get information out to the farmers," Bufkin said. "For now, extension publications and meetings are the best methods."
Since the variety testing began in the early 1980s, soybean farmers have used the results to determine which variety would best be suited for their environment.
Bernie White, senior research assistant in plant and soil sciences at MSU, said the tests are conducted at seven different locations across the state. This is done to consider all possible variables.
"The tests are spread out to cover different soil types, environmental conditions and management practices," White said. "It also allows researchers to test the varieties under irrigated and non- irrigated conditions."
Blaine said testing the varieties in different conditions gives farmers an opportunity to choose the variety that could work best for them and their area.
"The multiple testing sites lets farmers look at a majority of what is out there in a side-by-side comparison," Blaine said.
Much of the research dollars required for the testing comes from the growers themselves. Blaine said the growers pay a small percentage on every bushel sold.
"Half of that money is used on the national level and the other remains in Mississippi and is handled by the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board," Blaine said. "The board uses the growers' money to sponsor research, and for promotion, and new uses and products."
Summers said this money funds research that helps determine the varieties farmers will plant.
"We make our living by these results," Summers said. "We take the results, select the variety that preforms the best and bring that variety to our farms. It saves us from a lot of hit and misses."
The board is helping fund the variety testing program and getting these results on the Internet so that farmers will have easier access to the information.