Every Experiment has a Control

Every Experiment has a Control

Although the purpose of the field experiment is to stimulate drought, random rows of plants throughout the field were chosen as controls. Controls are necessary for any experiment and usually serve two purposes.

First, controls show that the system is behaving the way the researchers expect from previous knowledge, experience, and observation. Second, if something goes wrong, controls make it possible to pinpoint the error in the experiment so that it can be corrected. In this case, the corn receiving water serves as a control to show what normal corn would look like and can be compared to the drought-induced corn.

The plants in the control rows are supplied with water through drip tape. Graduate students Shannon King and research assistants Nicole Niehues and Cheyenne Becker installed this drip tape on May 31. The process involved rolling out over 50 feet of tubing to the plants randomly chosen as controls. Holes were cut into the tubing and water taps were attached to the holes. After that, long strips of drip tape were secured to the water taps and arranged in the control rows.

The MU Drought Team will monitor the field throughout the summer and continue to administer the necessary amount of water through the drip tape tubing. The control plants will be harvested at the same time as the drought-induced plants and comparisons between the two will be made.


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