Lettuce growing media

How to conduct a trial in 5 steps

Before you order large amounts of a new type of growing media or order from a new supplier, it only makes sense that you want to validate your reasons to switch. In order to do so, you might want to conduct a trial within your greenhouse. In this 3 part series you read how to prepare for trials, and how to get unbiased, clear results to make sure your investment pays off.

Part of a growing media trial’s success is the planning that goes into it. If you start a trial without a clear goal in mind and without making the right resources available it is sure to be a waste of time and money. You need to make sure you gather clear data in order to make an informed decision afterwards and get the best out of your growing media trial.

Reliability of suppliers

If you want to invest in a trial you should be sure that the quality of the growing media you use during your test is the same as the quality you will get from future orders. This means it’s important to work with a reliable supplier that can guarantee constant quality and properties.

Clear goals for your growing media trial

Always start with a clear goal. Think well about why you want to conduct these test and what types of growing media you want to compare. Write this down and also add what you expect or hope to see?

If you are hoping to solve specific issues by switching to different growing media, make sure to list them and to set up a good trial process for it.

Reasons to trial new growing media could be:

  • Saving water or fertilizer
  • Increasing or decreasing watering frequency
  • Increasing or decreasing drainage
  • Slowing down or speeding up dry out phase
  • Get more control over pH-levels
  • Switching to different types of fertilizer.

Compare the right things

Make sure to run the trial on both your current mixture and the trial mixture to be able to compare results. You don’t need to treat the different mixtures exactly the same if you want to be able to change your own practices, but do make sure to treat all mixtures of the same type the same.

If you need advice on trialing our growing media, just contact our sales advisors.

Allocate time, space and people

Before starting a trial, make sure you think about its timing and the resources required. You don’t want to run out of time or space halfway through. Therefore you should schedule ahead and pick a good time to conduct the trial. What works well for most growers is to conduct trials at the beginning of the ending of the season.

Aim to keep the trial in the same location at all times and clearly label all of your trial pots. In some cases growers actually lose track of their trial because they have to move it unexpectedly.

Also think well about the size of your trial. Depending on the size of your business and the resources you have available you should make it as big as possible. Important differences may seem insignificant in small trials, but can end up costing you a lot on bigger scale.

Finally, make sure to dedicate a team or a head grower to the trial. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to properly collect and register data on a weekly basis. This can take up 3 hours a week easily.

Growing media trial and data collection

By giving a specific person responsibility over the trial you make sure data will be recorded in the same way and you have a smaller chance of comparing apples to pears. Make sure to pay attention to details and to take pictures of relevant differences.

 

In our next article we will cover more tips on how to make sure your data collection helps you make unbiased decisions at the end of the trial.