A comparison of experimental designs for cultivar evaluations
CITATION: Saul, H., Booyse, M. & Swanepoel, P. A. 2020. A comparison of experimental designs for cultivar evaluations. South African Journal of Plant and Soil, 37(2):144-151, doi:10.1080/02571862.2019.1703049.
The original publication is available at https://www.tandfonline.com
Spatial heterogeneity and the lack of clear or significant treatment responses in agricultural field experiments complicates recommending the most suitable cultivar(s) to producers for a specific area. Increased attention should be given to the experimental design of cultivar trials, as failure to capture spatial heterogeneity may increase the unexplained variance and thus might influence the accuracy of results. A randomised complete block design (RCBD) is the most popular design in variety trials in South Africa. However, latinised row-column designs (LRCD) is widely recommended in literature for field experimentation, because of the efficiency to control heterogeneity in two dimensions. The aim of this study was to compare the efficiency of RBCD with LRCD and recommend the more appropriate design for use by practitioners in cultivar trials. Wheat (Triticum aestivum) was used as a test crop. An analysis of variance was performed on the data produced from both designs conducted on wheat in the Swartland region of South Africa over a two-year period. An LRCD provided better accuracy and model or design estimations than RCBD. The results demonstrated the value of eliminating variance in two directions rather than one direction. We therefore recommend the use of LRCD in preference to RCBD in variety trials.
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