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Fluid Journal : Fluid Journal 2008-2009
Pictures and charts are good ways to assess crop yield. National, state, and county average yield data are compiled by USDA, NASS, and state statisticians. Predictive mathematical models have become more popular. Computers make it easy to fit equations to masses of data. They can provide quantification to produce precise probabilities of possible events. Accuracy depends on proper assumptions, model, and database. Impact measures the consequences of suffering harm. It is easiest to consider short-term impact. And that will vary substantially among farms. Consider, for example, an anticipated 200-bu/A corn crop. Priced at $3.50/bu, it has a $700 gross revenue. If farm A has $600/A costs, the margin is $100. If farm B has $400/A costs, the margin is $300. Now, if the actual crop yield drops to 150 bu/A, farm A has a loss of $75/A, while farm B has a gain of $125/A. Farmer A should be more interested than farmer B in reducing risk. While one can generate many examples, the point is simple: impact from farm to farm is different. Therefore, it is critically important for managers to consider impact when planning crops and strategies. Long-term impacts, such as developing resistant populations of weeds and pests to chemicals, are more difficult to manage. We go to some lengths to provide "refuges" to maintain susceptible populations. We are urged to-- and do--rotate herbicides. But we don't know with a high degree of certainty what will be the impact. Other long-term events are beyond individual farm control and of uncertain consequence. Included are environmental change, governmental regulations relating to air quality, water quality, greenhouse gases, habitat, and esthetics, all of which might have a big impact on the way we farm. In many of these areas, we have little idea of what the impact will be. Unfortunately, we are short- changing necessary funding to analyze possible impacts. Aspects of Risk I will spend a few moments on two aspects of risk. One is attitude toward risk. The other is categories of risk in crop production that include crop yield, crop inputs, and markets. Attitude. Two University of Nebraska analysts have developed four categories of attitude in people. I have relabeled them as: Cautious: they follow the rules, are organized and want accuracy, want to understand strategies, and want to avoid risk Networkers: they are social, volunteer, become board members, tend to act on a hunch, like to know what others are thinking and doing Students: they search for data and information, are analytical, are independent decision makers Dare Devils: they like thrills, are creative, are quick thinkers, are flexible, see life as a game to be played. Risk categories. For farmers, there are three categories of risk: crop yield, crop inputs, and markets. Yield variability is huge in some parts of the country. In others it is relatively minor (Figure 1). One of the ways to reduce yield risk appears to be with genetically- engineered corn hybrids. Data from our nearby University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center (Figure 2) show that the multi-stacked corn hybrids tend to have lower yield variability as well as higher yield Figure 1 - MN Corn Performance Test Yields Waseca 563#7 Figure 2 - MN Corn Performance Test - Waseca Yield=-4305+2.4(year) 198 214 213 206 212 219 221 196
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