Calculating Return on Investment for on farm trials

An on farm trial tests the yield or economic effect of a management treatment on an agricultural system. This information can then form the basis for wider application of the treatment in other parts of the farm.

Precision Agriculture (PA) tools offer a simple and effective means to implement and measure such trials as part of a normal farming operation. This booklet uses working examples of how PA tools have enabled growers to measure the economic returns of treatments to help them with whole farm decisions.


Trials test ideas. Trials enable comparison against the standard paddock practice and allow for an objective comparison of the ideas being tested. Using yield data from the harvester’s monitor to analyse these trials puts a value to the practice change and allows you to understand how profitable the change is to your business.

Sometimes trials won’t provide you with a return on investment in the first year, and this is an important result. Growers spend money on inputs either as an insurance or to provide them with a direct return.

If an input is used as an insurance, it may be worthwhile including a zero strip to gain an understanding of how important this insurance is. If the input is aimed at improving returns it is critical to know how long the investment will take to payoff, the bigger the investment the longer it will take to pay off and that poses the question; could your money be better spent elsewhere?