One Experiment Draws to a Close

One of my fir experiments drew to a close on Monday. It will still take quite a bit of time to do all the post-experiment tests and write-up, but the active part of the experiment is finished. Yesterday I entered all the weekly evaluation data into a database (it ended up being 8,640 manual entries). Now I’ll be able to evaluate it with SAS the next time I have access to the software (I do not have my own copy of SAS).

Today I went to Rock Springs to collect soil samples, take pictures, and fertilize the firs in Experiment #2. One of my goals was to document how my health evaluations of the firs was conducted. Here is a line up showing Fraser firs that are rated 1 through 5.

The decline of a Fraser fir (an act by 5 firs).

I’m very curious what story the numbers will tell. Some of the results seem clear, like the following picture. It shows firs subjected to flooded soils with Phytophthora cactorum present. The Fraser fir died, the Canaan fir sustained light damage, and the Nordmann fir emerges unscathed.

Left to right: Fraser, Canaan, Nordmann

But this is real life. Not all plants are created equal. Variation occurs in the plants, soil, pathogens, climate, moisture levels, and other factors I’m not even aware of. Sometimes you get things like the following picture, which shows Fraser firs exposed to Phytophthora cactorum and responding very differently.

Fraser firs after eight weeks of exposure to Phytophthora cactorum.

So what caused this? Do the firs have genetic differences? Does the fir on the right have a bigger heart (aka more grit)? Were there differences in the soil?

Thus begins the analysis stage.

The experiment has ended and is still just beginning.

Hard at work at my experiment site.


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