Saturday, December 4, 2021

Universities launch tool to analyze Mid-South soybean variety trial data

• By Virginia Sykes •

soybean variety signs
A team of university variety test coordinators have helped develop an online tool to help filter out the best varieties for your growing region — photo by Vicky Boyd

Which soybean variety is best suited to my region? State variety testing programs provide critical research to help answer that question by evaluating hundreds of soybean varieties every year across multiple locations within a state. But what if we think beyond the bounds of our state borders when it comes to variety evaluation?

While a single state alone provides valuable data, our growing regions often cross state lines. A location in West Tennessee may share more similarities to sites in East Arkansas than it does to East Tennessee. By combining variety testing data across multiple states, we can create a more robust dataset that allows us to better predict which varieties are best suited to specific regions and growing conditions.

Pulling and combining data from select locations within multiple state variety testing programs can be a daunting task. Over the past year, a team of variety testing coordinators from Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia have been working to make that process a lot easier.

Through funding from the United Soybean Board and in collaboration with Centrec Consulting Group LLC, they have created a tool that will allow stakeholders to combine and visualize soybean variety testing data across multiple states in the Mid-South. This new tool is available at https://bit.ly/3DXkLUh.

Using the Mid-South soybean database

Let’s talk a bit about how to use the Mid-South soybean database. When the site is first opened, the graph to the right and table at the bottom of the site will show all data from every year and every location. That’s a lot of data and, for most folks, too much data!

This is where filters come into play. Using the panel on the left, the database can be filtered to narrow down the data by specific year, location and variety characteristics of interest.

The first filter is trial year. Options are 2018, 2019, and/or 2020. From there, varieties can be narrowed down to those evaluated in at least the previous one, two, or three years. For example, selecting 2020 and varieties planted in each of the last two years will show me data from just 2020 for varieties that have been evaluated for at least the previous two years. Selecting 2019 and 2020 would expand that to include both years of data.

The next step is location. Specific states or trial locations can be selected using drop down boxes in the filter panel or selected directly using the selection tool on the map. Location filter options include soil texture, irrigated or non-irrigated, and full- or double-crop systems. Finally, filter options are available for variety characteristics, such as brand name, variety name, maturity group, and herbicide tolerance.

Filters winnow down results

As these filter options are executed, the graph on the right and table at the bottom will update to display the filtered data. By default, the graph displays the average yield difference from the trial average. The graph can also display yield percentile (i.e. top 10%, 20%, etc.) if a value is specified in the filter options.

And finally, there is an option also to simply display yield in bushels per acre. Because of space constraints, the graph will only display the top yielders, with the highest value at the bottom, but the bars on the right of the graph can be used to scroll out and in on sections within the graph to view the entire range of varieties that match the filter options.

The filtered data is also presented in table format at the bottom of the screen. Clicking on the option button on the upper left corner of the table brings up an option to export the filtered data table as a csv file. This table can also be hidden by clicking the arrow in the center.

The database currently contains 2018–2020 data but will be updated as 2021 soybean variety trial data becomes available. We hope that you find this tool useful. We would value your feedback/suggestions as we continue to refine this product to better meet stakeholder needs. A brief survey can be found at https://bit.ly/3C3vTOU.

The database described in this article was developed with support from the United Soybean Board.

Dr. Virginia Sykes is coordinator of the University of Tennessee’s corn and soybean agronomic variety testing program. She may be reached at vsykes@utk.edu.

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