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DUPONT PIONEER USES STATE-OF-THE-ART EQUIPMENT TO COLLECT VALUABLE DATA
Source: DuPont Pioneer news release

DuPont Pioneer researchers use sophisticated, state-of-the-art equipment to plant, manage, harvest and collect data from test plots. Doing so leads to improved hybrids and varieties for growers.

"We're using specialized equipment for precommercial testing and product development," says Jan Jackson, DuPont Pioneer IMPACT field-testing lead. "We can more effectively identify the best products for grower environments and support the Pioneer sales team in providing growers with the right product for the right acre."

The IMPACT™ (Intensively Managed Product Advancement Characterization and Training) trial program provides local data to help Pioneer with decisions on crop genetics. IMPACT plots allow researchers to test dozens of Pioneer® brand corn hybrids and soybean varieties that are candidates for commercialization.

The large number of local plots means Pioneer researchers can learn how products perform in a wide variety of growing environments. Data from these plots show which products offer the best performance in a given environment, allowing Pioneer to bring only the best products to market for growers.

Accurately collecting these valuable data requires special equipment, some of which looks similar to what growers use in their fields; however, modifications and analytical systems make these machines ideal for handling a large number of test plots.

"We need to extract high-quality data on each hybrid or variety we're testing," Jackson says. "It's not just planters and combines: we're using specialized equipment for preparing and managing seed before planting, and for collecting and analyzing complex data at harvest."

Pioneer uses the data to make precommercial decisions about which products to keep or cull. Information pulled from test plots also helps researchers develop agronomic trait scores for each.

Researchers use four- and eight-row planters, which seem simplistic in an era of 24- and 36-row rigs. And while this equipment may seem like small potatoes, the planters are the perfect size to establish thousands of test fields across North America.

Row width may vary between 30-, 36-, 38- or 40-inch row spacing or require planting on soil ridges depending on geography, grower preference and field management. For these areas, research must use special planters with telescoping row units to be able to adjust to the different row width of each grower cooperator.

Pioneer also uses specially modified combines to harvest each plot. This ensures that data from each hybrid or variety is handled separately from others in the field.

"We test in thousands of North American fields to understand local environments and how each product performs in those environments," Jackson says. "We need high uniformity within the field to accurately separate genetic differences.

At the same time, we need diverse field environments (high/low yielding, high/low stress, different soil types and various irrigation types) on a field-to-field basis. We use specialized equipment and processes to meet our requirements and to facilitate the working relationship and needs of our grower cooperators."

Pioneer records some of the same traits growers monitor including yield and moisture. Researchers also gather a lot of observational information during the growing season. They visit testing fields from early emergence through harvest.

"We start collecting information on growth and plant development as soon as the plant emerges," Jackson says. "When we decide to advance a product, we must know how it performs in a wide array of conditions."

Pioneer only uses high-quality data from test plots to make product-advancement decisions. If a plot is compromised by some event or adverse condition, the data is discarded - bad data only leads to bad decisions.

"We're continually improving Pioneer genetics to respond to growers' needs," Jackson says. "To do that, we need to continually improve our testing systems and maintain a close relationship with our grower."


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