Improving validity of on-farm research
Lee J. Johnston, PhD; Antonio Renteria, DVM, PhD; Michael R. Hannon, DVM, PhD
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On-farm research receives much attention from swine producers and industry professionals, and is often perceived by pork producers to be more relevant to real-world commercial pork production than controlled experiments conducted in university settings. Swine producers and industry professionals must realize that retrospective analysis can identify associations among variables of interest but provides no evidence for a causal relationship between a manipulated variable(s) and a production response. As substantial commitments of time and resources are required for a properly conducted experiment, producers should give careful consideration to undertaking on-farm research. To generate useful information in on-farm experiments, one must adhere to principles of scientific inquiry; maintain integrity of the production system; willingly commit labor and financial resources; and pay attention to details. Effective communications with farm owners, barn workers, and other decision makers are crucial. Advice of a statistician on experimental design and statistical analysis of data, before initiating the study, helps ensure conclusions are valid and defensible. Ideas to enhance the success of on-farm research are presented.
Keywords: experimental design, research methodology
Cite as: Johnston LJ, Renteria A, Hannon MR. Improving validity of on-farm research. J Swine Health Prod 2003;11(5):240-246.
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