Forage Evaluation as Influenced by Environmental Replication: A Review
- Jerome H. Cherney * and
- Jeffrey J. Volenec
Environment and treatment × environment interactions affect forage research results. This problem becomes even more complicated with forage crops that are biennial or perennial and are harvested several times each growing season. Our objective was to examine the role of environmental replication in forage experiments. A survey of forage researchers was used to determine prevailing opinions on the subject. Many traits are evaluated in forage crops, from biomass yield to basic physiological traits, and environmental impact varies among the traits. Some traits are unaffected by environment or treatment × environment interactions, although evidence must be provided when using this assumption in designing and reporting a study. The hypothesis being tested and the desired range in inferences helps determine the number of environmental regimes. A study must be repeatable (within its range of inferences) such that similar conclusions would reached if the experiment were repeated. We can extend inferences beyond the environments included in the experiment if a historic data base can show the stability of the response across environments. Consider the complex interaction between environment, plant response, and nutritive value of the forage when setting up forage-quality studies. Multiple harvests in a year can rarely be considered an acceptable form of environmental replication. Although we do not specify number of locations and years for forage experiments, single environments must be properly justified, especially for forage-quality experiments. If a single environment cannot be justified, then at least two environments are needed. Authors and journal editorial boards should share the responsibility for maintaining scientific quality in forage research.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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