How to trial H-Start on your farm: Field Guide

img blog How to trial H Start on your farm Field Guide

Measure the impact on your farm.

Running a trial on your farm is one of the best ways to assess for yourself the potential impact of H-Start for your operation.  The benefits aren’t just measured and seen at harvest though.  Your crop and soil benefit from H-Start throughout the growing season and many of these benefits can be seen in the field at different stages.  If this isn’t your first year of application, you’ll likely observe even more benefits in your field.

The following is a guideline to trial H-Start on your farm and measure the plant and soil responses that may be visible during the year.  The description below identifies what to look for at several different points in the growing season.  However, not all of these steps are necessary.  Observing and measuring at 28-42 days after seeding and at harvest will provide a good perspective on how H-Start has impacted your crop.  You can download a more straightforward field guide to track your results here.

The following is a guideline to trial H-Start on your farm and measure the plant and soil responses that may be visible during the first year.

Choose Your Field

  • We recommend you apply H-Start to a quarter section adjacent to a quarter section without H-Start as a control. Both quarter sections should have comparable field conditions and cropping history
  • Seed both quarter sections at the same time
  • Apply the same rate of fertilizer to both fields
  • Apply H-Start at 35 pounds per acre on the H-Start quarter

How to Dig and Assess Roots

  • Dig plants using a shovel in a 6” x 6” square for measuring at 14 -21 days. For later assessments, a 12” x 12” square is recommended.
  • Place the plants and soil in water so you can gently massage soil away and assess differences in root development. At the end of the season, dry roots require extra care to maintain their integrity. 
  • Look for main root development, root branching, and root hairs.

Optional - 14-21 Days After Seeding

Differences to look for:
  • Emergence: Count the number of plants in 1 meter along a row in 3-5 locations in both the H-Start and Control fields.
  • Shoot and leaf development: length, width, or number of leaves, or the emergence of true leaves.
  • Early-stage root development: root length, root hair growth, root branching, signs of early season disease

Recommended - 21-42 Days After Seeding

Differences to look for:
  • Crop stage: leaf stage, tillering or branching, leaf width or area.
  • Visual comparison: crop vigor, height, and stage.
  • Root development: root length, root hair growth, root branching, disease presence and severity, root nodules in pulses.

Optional - Flowering and Early Seed Set

Differences to look for:
  • Crop stage: progress of heading or flowering.   
  • Visual comparison: crop lushness, greenery, vigor, height, stage, tillering or branching.

Recommended – Harvest

Assessing your yield

Gathering accurate yield data is often the biggest challenge with on farm trials. After several years of working closely with growers, we have found the best method to determine yield is to harvest and weigh the entire treated and untreated fields. This reduces the impact of spatial variability often found in trying to gather data off a limited number of swaths or harvest passes. While this process takes more time and coordination, the results are more accurate and relevant. 

Differences to look for:
  • Crop stage: crop maturity and harvest timing.
  • Visual comparison: head or pod size, head fill, number of pods, branching on indeterminate crops, total tillers in cereals, flag leaf health.
  • Soil texture and tilth: to identify differences in the soil, choose similar areas in both fields and measure the force required to push a metal rod or a spade into each field to similar depths. A penetrometer can be used if available. 
We’d like to hear how your H-Start trial went.

Snap a photo of the differences you’re seeing or let us know what results you saw.  You can connect with us on X or Facebook @HumaTerraRegen or send us an email at