by Madeline Fisher in CSA News. Before Fernando Miguez began running experiments as a University of Illinois master’s student, like any good scientist he dove first into the research literature. His subject was the effect of winter cover crops on summer corn yields, and by the time Miguez entered grad school, a healthy body of work already existed. So, he sat down to review a stack of studies, thinking, naturally enough, that he’d soon hit upon a knowledge gap to target in his trials.
He thought wrong. “To be honest, it seemed like the more papers I read, the more confused I was,” says the ASA and CSSA member, now an assistant professor at Iowa State University. Yields varied widely by year and with local climate and soil conditions, leaving him unable to discern any clear trends. Eventually, he gave up and chose a different tack. “I thought, ‘Let’s try to do a meta-analysis on this topic,’ ” he says, “because reading more papers is not helping.”
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