From the Ground Up: Answer Plots - Part of a Farmer's Classroom

With the technologies that are employed by today’s farmers, it’s necessary for them to participate in continuing education to keep abreast of the latest developments.

An answer plot is a piece of land that usually averages fifteen to twenty acres and showcases the latest in everything from seed varieties, crop protection and macro and micro nutrients, to seed population strategies. Robert Cossar is an agronomist.

“What we’re really looking at is how do we adapt the newer technologies from a genetic standpoint. We know, even based on the genetics that were released in, or the hybrids that were released in 2013, the brand new hybrid you just saw come out in a brand new bag in ’13, is seven, eight or nine bushels better than the ones that came out in 2012. Our hybrids and our genetics and our varieties, our cotton varieties, everything is more efficient at using the water we have a capturing the sunlight we have.”

Terrell Weise grows corn in Milam County.

“Used to you had the standard ear that didn’t flex. Now if you have a flex ear variety which most of them are, you can plant it and it flexes to the amount of water, the amount of fertilizer that you have and that is right there technology that you can see.”

Cossar says that answer plots are a valuable tool for a farmer’s classroom.

“An answer plot allows us to see those new technologies sooner. It allows us to get our hands on them so we can see how they operate in our environment, so we’re always looking for data points close to the farm. The closer we get to the farm with data points, the better off I am to tell you as a grower how those data points are going to transfer into your farming practices.”

Most farms are getting larger today and management practices are changing to include the latest technology.

“We gone from managing farms, now we’re managing fields, and now with newer technology we’re even managing per acre and we’re managing management zones in acres. As we think about feeding that nine billion people in the year 2030 or whatever the number might be, the penalty for not doing it is that we stay the same. If we do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we always got.”