On a recent day, around 100 Winfield Solutions seed and agronomy advisors braved the wet weather and muddy conditions which beset so much of north Mississippi this year to learn the latest information on soybean, corn and cotton in research plots just north of Tunica, Miss.
On this day, the goal of the Answer Plot was “to train the trainers,” according to Kevin Eye, director Answer Plots for Winfield Solutions. “We're essentially educating the sellers and agronomists who in turn can provide producers with product information they need to maximize yield and profit. We're focused on agronomic training and genetic placement training, making sure we're getting the right product in the right field.”
There are 138 of the plots located across the United States, including 25 in the Mid-South. The first Answer Plot was introduced in 1998, according to Eye. “The concept began in Iowa and has been growing by 10 plots to 20 plots per year. This is first time at this specific location (in Tunica).
The purpose of the plots has also grown over the last few years to include farmers, Eye said, “We try to schedule a large field day and invite a lot of farmers out so they can get out in the fields and see what's being offered first hand.
“Our story is how the growers can take the information home and use it on their own operation. It's not a commercial or a hard-sell type of event. It's an information day. That's what we focus on. If the farmer can't make it that day, or if he wants to come back out another time, we encourage the local co-op agronomist to take the farmer out on a one-on-one basis, by appointment. We want these Answer Plots to be used all the time.
A Winfield Solutions Web site, www.answerplot.com, is also available for growers to find regional, local and national data on research, new technologies and new traits featured in the plots. “We like to share a lot of data with growers so they can make good decisions on the farm,” Eye said.
To manage the 138 Answer Plots in the United States takes 10 crews, with three full-time persons on the crew and between two and four interns who plant and spray the plots. On average, they'll be in each of the plots a minimum of 10-12 times per year. All Answer Plot crews use planters with RTK guidance.
Each Answer Plot site consists of roughly 3,000 trials that provide side-by-side comparisons of genetics and traits and treated with numerous defenses against insects and disease.
These sites encompass a wide portfolio of products from Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow and Mycogen as well as Croplan Genetics brand seed and AgriSolutions brand crop protection products.