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Diploma program 2012-2013

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture

Gidon Winters, Ph.D.


Moshav Idan
Mobile: 054-4781700
E-mail: wintersg@arava.co.il

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture

Introduction Gidon Winters:

Education:
1994-1998

B.Sc. (Biology), Haifa University, Haifa, Israel.


Teachers certificate (sciences, high school), Haifa University, Haifa, Israel.

06-08/2000

Conservation Biology and Policy, Duke Marine Lab, Duke University.

1998-2000

M.Sc. (Ecology and Environmental quality), Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.
The use of pulse amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorometry in coral photosynthesis research
studying photosynthesis in corals and its use in detecting early stages of stress.

Moshav Idan

2002-2008

Ph.D. (Plant Sciences), Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.


Non intrusive techniques for monitoring the physiology of corals

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture

Introduction Course goals, structure and project:


1) Goals of the course
Understand fundamentals of experimental
designs + statistical procedures

Conduct field-level Agricultural Experimentation

Write a scientific paper / report

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture

Introduction Course goals, structure and project:


2) Structure of the course

4 lessons sessions (scientific methodology, experimental designs, collecting


data, statistical procedures, presenting results, scientific writing)

Reports there are several reports that you will have to fill during the year

Research notebooks

Conducting the research with team and supervisor.

Project presentation + Report

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture

Introduction Course goals, structure and project:


3) Course project
During the year you will conduct an independent research project in the field.
The research project:
Apply scientific methodology to answer an agricultural problem/question
Working with:

The Israeli farmer

Have any of you already thought of a project ?

The team (2 students)

Met with project supervisor ?

AICAT Supervisor

Gidon

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture

Scientific methodology
Do you earn a living as a farmer ?
When planting season approaches, how do you decide :
What seeds to plant ?

Decisions will

Where to plant them ?

determine your

How much to plant of each variant ?

productivity

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture

What is Scientific methodology ?


To solve these problems, you usually follow a series of
steps that will lead you to the solution
The scientific method is a process that you can use to solve
problems and determine answers to questions in a logical format

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology an example

Cant read because


flashlight doesnt
work

Nothing happens

What happened the last


time that Flashlight
didnt work ?

Dead
batteries

Put new batteries

Flashlight doesnt work now


because batteries are dead
again.

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - steps
Identify a problem /

Flashlight doesnt work

make an observation
Research the problem

Thought back to the last time


that the flashlight didnt work

Formulate a hypothesis

Hypothesis (educated guess) = we


need new batteries this time as well

Conduct an experiment

Experiment = replace the batteries


and turn on flashlight

Reach a conclusion

Flashlight worked, so conclusion =


indeed, we needed new batteries.

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - Identify a problem
Identify a problem / state a problem / make an observation:
Identify a problem that you are attempting to solve / purpose of the project
My neighbours beans are really green and mine are brown with spots on them
The peppers growing in the edges of greenhouse 1 seem smaller than
the rest of the peppers in the green house

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - Identify a problem
Identify a problem / state a problem / make an observation:
Focus the question, make your problem specific
In what conditions should I grow my plants in my farm
Very general, impossible to know how to begin working on a project

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - Identify a problem
Identify a problem / state a problem / make an observation:
Do bean plants grow better in sunlight, indirect sunlight or shade ?
Narrowed the problem down to only one type of plant
beans and only one factor affecting its growth - light
Make sure the problem can be solved through controlled
experimentation
Controlled experiment = testing a variable against a control

More specific, narrowed it down to one type of


plant, and one factor of growth affecting them ?

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - Research the problem
Identify a problem: Do bean plants grow better in sunlight, indirect sunlight or shade ?
Research the problem:
Do this before your formulate your hypothesis

Bo
o

ks,

What types of beans are grown in your area ?


How are beans in your area usually grown ?
What type and amount of irrigation are they given ?

i nt
ern
et,

su
pe
rv

iso

ra

nd
f

arm

er

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - Hypothesis
Identify a problem: Do bean plants grow better in sunlight, indirect sunlight or shade ?
Research the problem
Formulate a Hypothesis
A suggested solution to the problem
Must be testable
Sometimes written as IfThen statements
Predicts an outcome (what you think will happen based on your knowledge)
Doesnt include WHY you think you will get certain results
Should be in a statement form not a question

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - Hypothesis
Beans plants will grow better in direct sunlight than in
indirect sunlight or shade
Beans plants will grow faster in direct sunlight than in
indirect sunlight or shade
What happens if the results of the experiment prove the hypothesis wrong ?
Nothing. Hypothesis is not the answer to the problem just a
statement about your guess what we think will happen

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
Identify a problem: Do bean plants grow better in sunlight, indirect sunlight or shade ?
Research the problem
Formulate a Hypothesis
Testing your hypothesis:
Conducting an experiment = procedure to test the hypothesis
An experimenter changes one factor and observes or measures what happens

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
Conducting an experiment = procedure to test the hypothesis

...when you can measure what you are speaking about, and
express it in numbers, you know something about it; but
when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is
of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning
of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts,
advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may
be.
Lecture on "Electrical Units of Measurement" (3 May 1883), popular Lectures Vol. I, p.
73

William Thomson
(18241907), 1st
Baron Kelvin, often
referred to simply as
Lord Kelvin, was a
Scottish physicist.

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
Identify a problem /
make an observation

In my neighbor's greenhouses, the tomato plants give


much more tomatoes per each plant

I want to increase the amount of tomatoes from each


plant
Research the problem
Formulate a hypothesis

Conduct an experiment
Reach a conclusion

Will the use of fertilizers help me get more tomatoes ? Are


their any side affects of using more fertilizers ? (diseases,
promotes vegataitive growth)
Using a fertilizer will end in a bigger tomato plant

plan the research according to the assumption:


2 groups of tomato plants.
1 with fertilizer and 1 without fertilizer.
All other conditions (light, water) are the same.
Measuring the plants periodically (every week)

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
Testing your hypothesis = Conducting an experiment
The experiment will be designed around the hypothesis
The experiment will either prove your hypothesis or disprove it
Important not to engineer the experiment so will prove your hypothesis
(e.g. Add fertilizer to the beans growing under the sunlight, take out weeds in favourite treatment...)

Get the results- observations and measuring notebook


the opposite of forget is to write!)

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
Preparations:
Make sure you have all the materials you will need to conduct the
experiment properly dont begin the experiment before you have
everything

like baking cake...

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
What do we measure ? Variable factor in the experiment that is being tested

Variables used in an experiment can be divided into two types:


Dependent variable = The factor that is measured or observed, the response variable.
Independent variable" = The factor that is changed, the manipulated variable that are
tested to see if they are the cause.

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
Examples: 1) Effects of vitamin C on life span

Does taking vitamin C pills daily make you live longer ?

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
Examples: 1) Effects of vitamin C on life span
Will taking vitamin C pills daily make you live longer ?
Researchers dictate the vitamin C intake of a group of people over time.
One part of the group will be given vitamin C pills daily.
The other part of the group will be given a placebo pill = CONTROL GROUP.
Nobody in the group knows which part they are in.
The researchers will check the life span of the people in both groups.
The dependent variable = the life span (the response variable, measured variable)
The independent variable = the vitamin C (the manipulated variable).

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
What is the Purpose of a Control?
Controls are NOT being tested
Controls are used for COMPARISON
Valid Experiments

Two groups are required --- the control & experimental groups

There should be only one variable

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
Examples of controls & variables

For example, suppose you want to figure out the fastest route to walk
home from school.

You will try several different routes and time how long it takes you to
get home by each one.

Since you are only interested in finding a route that is


fastest for you, you will do the walking yourself.

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
Examples of controls & variables

What are the Variables in your experiment?

Varying the route is the independent variable

The time it takes is the dependent variable

Keeping the same walker throughout makes the walker a control variable.

It is best to make several trials with each independent variable


.

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
Data
Results of the experiment
May be quantitative (numbers) or qualitative
Must be organized
Can be organized into charts, tables, or graphs

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
Conclusions
The answer to the hypothesis based on
the data obtained from the experiment

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
Retest
In order to verify the results, experiments must be retested.

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
Examples: 2) Effect of fertilizer on plant growth (height)
Study measuring the influence of different quantities of fertilizer on plant growth

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
Examples: 2) Effect of fertilizer on plant growth
Measuring the influence of different quantities of fertilizer on plant growth:
The independent variable = amount of fertilizer used.
The dependent variables = the growth in height and/or mass of the plant.
The controlled variables would be the type of plant, the type of fertilizer, the
amount of sunlight the plant gets, the size of the pots, etc all the same for all
treatments

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
Examples: 3) Effect of drug dosage on symptom severity
Study of how different doses of a drug affect the severity of symptoms

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology - testing your hypothesis
Examples: 3) Effect of drug dosage on symptom severity
Study of how different doses of a drug affect the severity of symptoms
A researcher compares the frequency and intensity of symptoms
when different doses are administered.
The independent variable = the dose
The dependent variable = the frequency/intensity of symptoms.

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology
Phase 1: Identification of the problem (focusing on the main issue)
Phase 2: Phrase the survey, research question (be specific!)
Phase 3: Assume a legitimate assumption (prediction)
Phase 4: Plan the research according to the assumption
Phase 5: Get the results
Phase 6: Find the correct conclusion (rule)
Phase 7: Think about a future research in order to reconfirm your conclusion
Suggestions for further study and research

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Scientific methodology
Advantages:
Ensures you work objectively (do not use emotions, subjective feelings do cigarettes kill ?)
Ensures you stick to the facts (did the patient improve their weight or not...)
Ensures someone else can repeat the experiment

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Starting building the project
Date:
Name of students:
Place of work:

1.

2.

Name of farmer
Name of Supervisor:
Projects name:
Key words:

___________________________________________________________
___________________________________

Assumption:
The way to test the
assumption (building the
experiment):

___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
__________________________________

Control:
Repetitions:
Expected results and
reasoning:

___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Bi weekly Report

Date:
Name of students:
Place of work:
Name of farmer
Name of Supervisor:
Projects name:
Activities for the week
Results and comments:
Problems/Questions:
Ideas for improving the work:

1.

2.

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture

Observation: Men are usually heavier than women.


But, What about their Body Mass Index (BMI)?

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Background research - Weight for height:
Physical health can be measured through the appropriateness of
a person's weight to his height
Body Mass Index is an accurate indicator of surplus body fat than kilos.
It is a mathematical ratio of height to weight that can be linked with body
composition (or body fat percentage) and with indices of health risk.
Calculating BMI is as follows:
BMI = Weight (in kg)/Height(in m)2

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Hypothesis: Men have higher BMIs than women
Experimental design how much data to collect ?
How much data to collect: The more the better...
More samples means more time, more energy, and maybe higher costs...
Very few samples might not be representative enough...
Rule of thumb: the average of 30 samples is distributed normally,
no matter what distribution is the phenomenon.
5 How many samples ? 30

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture

Experimental design how to collect the data ?


Samples have to be chosen in a random way
Samples have to be measured in the same way

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Weight for height:

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture

Agricultural Experimentation
In agriculture research a scientist identifies solutions to problems through
experimentation using the scientific method

Example:

Corn seeds

Methodology of scientific research in Agriculture


Experimental design how do we collect data ?
What is the average weight and height of people in Vietnam ?
What is the average weight and height of women vs. men in Vietnam ?
Is the weight for height different between men and women in Vietnam ?