# North Central Agricultural Statisticians

Initial Proposal

I. NCR — North Central Agricultural Statisticians

II. Duration: October 1, 1990 through September 30, 1993

III. Justification:

Statisticians who consult and do research in an Agricultural Experiment Station have a unique relationship with the University. Their role in service is usually much more extensive than other faculty positions within the university system. This consulting allows the Land Grant Institutions, through the use of agricultural statisticians, to perform its mission of agricultural research more efficiently than would otherwise be possible. In fact, the sentiments expressed by Agricultural Experiment Station Director Dr. C.W. Upp over 25 years ago are still valid. “It is my conviction that experiment station statisticians can be and usually are a means of saving research funds.” (Auburn University, August 17, 1962) As budgets become tighter there is a demand to make our research dollars go further. This requires that the experiment station statisticians continually keep abreast of the latest statistical methods in both design and analysis.

There has been an increasing quantification in many fields of agricultural research. The development of appropriate statistical methods and recommendations for sound statistical practice have been major goals of statisticians affiliated with Land Grant Institutions. There are many areas of methodological development and of setting guidelines for practice where increased interaction among agriculturally oriented statisticians would be useful.

An NCR committee could provide an extremely useful function by serving as a focal point for the development of methodology and the implementation of sound statistical practice.

An important role of an NCR committee would be to provide input into NC committees for which statistical design and analysis are a vital component. An example might be committees dealing with modeling. An important component of modeling efforts include obtaining and analyzing empirical data. It is highly likely that a statistically oriented NCR committee could play a key collaborative role in working with other committees. This collaborative effort could be carried out by scheduling the annual meeting to overlap (by invitation) with an NC committee when the effected researchers feel they need such involvement. The formation of an NCR committee will enable the members to be acquainted with each others expertise. When an NCT or NCR committee would meet on a campus, that AES statistician could meet with the committee and would be able to draw on the resources of other AES statisticians.

Since most states generally have but one or two statisticians assigned full time to the Agricultural Experiment Station, the station statistician is somewhat in isolation. However, the statistical problems which each one faces have a great deal in common. It is useful for the Agricultural Experiment Station statisticians to meet and solve some of their more difficult problems jointly and to discuss what steps have been taken by their counterparts in other states in similar situations. In this respect the statisticians can better work together to provide service to the agricultural researchers of their state.

There exists a committee of University Statisticians of Southern Experiment Stations (USSES). There are several reasons to form an NCR committee, NC Agricultural Statisticians (NCAS). First, the USSES group already has a large membership and in order to be effective, the group needs to be small. The joining of the NCAS with USSES would surely be too large to be an effective problem solving group. Second, there are different types of agricultural problems in the NC. Utmost on the list is the limited water resources where studies involving irrigation, water quality, water supply and the interaction with fertilizer and pesticides are being conducted. Next there are many different perennial crops such as winter wheat, corn and arid crops such as grain sorghum. Finally, the livestock problems are different where the NC region has large feed lots, confined swine and tall and short grass prairies used for grazing. Many of the statistical problems faced by the NCAS and USSES are similar, but because of differences in the target commodities the solutions are different. For example, irrigation trials require much larger experimental units and these can be used to construct complex split-plot and strip-plot experimental designs. With the formation of an NCR, the research will be more relevant to the region. Because of the locations of states and interests of individual statisticians, some universities will be members of NCAS as well as USSES. Such joint membership will enable cross fertilization of ideas.

IV. Committee Objectives:

(1) To promote cooperative research among statisticians with interests in agriculture.

(2) To meet annually to discuss unresolved statistical problems of mutual interest and to explore potential approaches to solutions. Discussions would focus on the statistical aspects of problems arising from agricultural research.

(3) To facilitate more rapid transfer of statistical methodology and recommendations on practice to agricultural researchers which could involve collaboration with other regional committees where substantive statistical input would enhance the research programs.