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Fluid Journal : Fluid Journal 2008-2009
Dr. Anthony has a Ph.D. in Economics and farms near St. Peter, MN. averages. Genetic resistance to pests also appears to have benefits, especially in stress- growing seasons. Inputs. Crop input decisions also have a risk component. Not long ago we had a choice of a few crop varieties, relatively cheap fertilizer, and a couple of herbicides. University of Minnesota varietal trial data were simple guidelines for input selection. However, varietal choices have multiplied, herbicide combinations and rates approach infinity, and fertilizer costs have zoomed. So how do we handle decisions? Fortunately, we continue to have a good set of crop yield data from university experimental stations in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin who provide a wealth of statistically reliable data. We like to use three-year data from each site and assemble it all into a spreadsheet to aid comparisons. Essentially, we look for varieties with highest average yields and least variability. In some respects, with the advent of glyphosate-tolerant corn and soybeans, herbicide selection has again become relatively simple. The great advantage of glyphosate is that it works. There is almost no risk of failure. Other herbicide programs can be quite effective, but are more variable, depending on soil moisture and climate. In the long run, there is rightful concern about developing populations of glyphosate- resistant weeds. We are mindful of it, watch for it, and use glyphosate combinations to address the danger. Several risks associated with fertilizer programs are cost, optimum application rates, soil fertility management, and environmental. Best management practice (BMP) guidelines have been promoted. Initially they were single-point numbers for NPK rates. As such, these BMP guidelines relate target rates to anticipated crop yield, crop price, and fertilizer cost. It has become a very useful tool to optimize rate and reduce risk of over-fertilizing. Environmental risks are looming ever larger in fertilizer decisions. Relationships between N, P, and water quality have been of concern for some time. We are now seeing growing concern about fertilizer and greenhouse gas emissions. Our most immediate concern is with total maximum daily loads of nutrients in impaired watersheds (TMDL). Such risks could become opportunities, if properly handled. Marketing is a major area of farm risk management. Access to markets is one area. Non-GMO corn and low linoleic soybeans are commanding a price premium. Commodity pricing is highly uncertain. There are two kinds of price risk. One is selling below production cost. The other is not selling in the upper range of seasonal price. Westward rail movement of grain, ethanol plants, as well as huge investment fund participation in commodity markets have changed the market. Farming has become very competitive for resources. As we see the future, we need to grow the business to provide adequate income for participants in the future. Part of this growth means adding land base. Competitors who sell crops at a higher price can offer the highest bid for available land. This doesn't mean that the economic environment is cut-throat. It does mean that we need to pay attention.
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