(also study plot or sample plot). (1) A permanent plot of land used for field experiments.
(2) An agricultural experimental institution that conducts field experiments to develop efficient methods of raising agricultural crops in a region, taking into consideration local natural and economic conditions. Unlike scientific research institutes and agricultural testing stations, experimental fields do not work on theoretical problems of land cultivation.
In prerevolutionary Russia, experimental fields were the first scientific research institutions in agriculture. They played a major role in the development of scientifically sound land cultivation. The first experimental field was established in 1840 at the Gory-Goretsk Agricultural School. In 1881 an experimental field was established at the Novo-Aleksandriia Agricultural Institute.
Between 1865 and 1867, D. I. Mendeleev established experimental fields at his estate, Boblovo, in Moscow Province. At his initiative, the Free Economic Society organized a number of fields to conduct experiments with fertilizers and soil tillage in Poltava (1884), Kherson (1889), Don (1894), Lokhvitsa (1894), Odessa (1894), and Taganrog (1894). Experimental fields grew in number after the disastrous harvest and famine of 1891, when the necessity of managing agriculture on scientific principles became obvious. In 1913 there were 77 experimental fields. They constituted the most widespread type of experimental institution at that time.
After the Great October Socialist Revolution a more advanced network of agricultural institutions developed rapidly. These institutions included institutes (222 in 1974) and their branches (39) and experimental stations (432). After having played a vital role in the development of the agricultural sciences, experimental fields became less important, and their numbers started diminishing (32 in 1974). Experimental stations and, in some cases, institutes were organized to replace many of the old experimental fields. The experimental fields that have been preserved are branches of the institutes. As permanent testing plots providing typical conditions for raising a particular crop, they are used to verify and expand on the results of research at the institute.
In place of the experimental fields, scientific research institutes and experimental stations have developed a network of testing sites, which numbered 233 in 1974. The sites, which are small subdivisions of scientific research establishments, are located in the fields and on the livestock farms of sovkhozes and kolkhozes. They test the research results of their institutes or experimental stations under local conditions and then introduce the new crop or technique into production.
N. I. VOLODARSKII