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Agricultural Production Management


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Title: Agricultural Production Management

Agricultural Production Management
Production Management Categories
  • Classified into four types of Production
  • Soil and Crop management
  • Pest management
  • Nutrient management
  • Water management

Types of Farming Systems
  • Combination of production management practices
    employed to achieve production, profit, and
    increasingly, environmental and sustainability
  • Conventional, high-synthetic-input systems
  • Reduced synthetic-input systems
  • Cultural practices
  • Biological practices
  • Organic farming systems

Types of Farming Systems
  • Other ways of Grouping Systems
  • Cropping systems
  • Tillage systems
  • Irrigation systems

Factors Affecting Farmers Decisions
  • Management skills
  • Economic factors
  • Environmental pressures
  • Availability of technology and technical support

Soil Management and Conservation
Importance of Soil
  • As the key resource in crop production
  • It supports the physical, chemical, and
    biological processes
  • Regulates water flow such as
  • Infiltration
  • Root-zone storage
  • Deep percolation
  • Run-off

Importance of Soil
  • Acts as a buffer between inputs and environment
  • Functions as degrader or immobilizer of
    agricultural chemicals, wastes, or other
  • Soil also sequesters carbon from the atmosphere

Important Soil attributes
  • Texture
  • Structure
  • Bulk density and rooting depth
  • Permeability and water storage capacity
  • Carbon content
  • Organic matter and biological activity
  • pH
  • Electrical conductivity

Three functions of soil (from NRC)
  • Provides the physical, chemical, and biological
    processes for the growth of plants
  • To store, regulate, and partition water flow
    through the environment
  • To buffer environmental change by decomposing
    organic wastes, nitrates, pesticides, and other
    substances that could become pollutants

Soil Quality
  • Defined The capacity of soil to function or the
    fitness for use
  • Can be maintained through use of appropriate crop
    production technologies and resource management
  • Two concepts of measuring soil quality
  • More traditional focuses on inherent soil
  • More recent focuses on dynamic properties of soil

Land capability and suitability
  • Two types of measurements
  • Land Capability Classes (LCCs)
  • Prime farmland designation
  • Used to measure land capabilities for a
    particular purpose
  • Growing crops and trees
  • Grazing animals
  • Nonagricultural uses

Land Capability Classes (LCCs)
  • Range from I to VIII
  • Class I no significant limitations for raising
    crops About 7 of US cropland
  • Classes II and III have some limitations such as
    poor drainage, limited root zones, climatic
    restrictions, or erosion potential make up over
    ¾ of US cropland

Land Capability Classes (LCCs)
  • Class IV suitable only under selected cropping
  • Classes V, VI, and VII best suited for pasture
    and range
  • Class VIII is only suited for wildlife habitat,
    recreation, and other non-agricultural uses
  • LCCs I through III total 337 million acres, or
    82 of US cropland excluding Alaska

Prime Farmland
  • Based on physical and morphological soil
  • Depth of water table to the root zone
  • Moisture-holding capacity
  • Degree of salinity
  • Permeability
  • Frequency of flooding
  • Soil temperature
  • Erodibility
  • Soil acidity

Prime Farmland
  • Factors needed to sustain high yields when
    treated and managed
  • Growing season
  • Moisture supply
  • Soil quality
  • Totals 222 million acres, or 54 of US cropland
    excluding Alaska

  • Measures output per unit input
  • Often measured as crop yield per acre
  • Can reflect soil degradation if yields decline as
    soils become degraded and more inputs are used to
    compensate for decline in soil quality

  • Highly erodible lands (HEL) is a soil quality
    measure that is important to USDA conservation
  • USDA uses the erodibility index (EI) to classify
    erosion potential

Erosion Productivity Loss
  • Measure of productivity loss that converts total
    erosion from tons per acre per year to inches per
  • 3 factors reflected in this measure
  • Erosion rates
  • Soil depth
  • Rental values of land

Five major concentrations of vulnerable soils
  • Largest Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri in the corn
  • Second eastern North Dakota and western and
    south central Minnesota
  • Third eastern bluffs of Mississippi River in
    western Kentucky, Tennessee, and along eastern
    edge of Mississippi Delta
  • Fourth eastern edge of Colorado
  • Fifth band of land in eastern Washington and
    Oregon around Palouse and Central Plateau

Effects of erosion
  • Two types
  • Onsite effects
  • Offsite effects
  • Major onsite effect is impact on soil
  • Offsite damages occur when
  • Sediment enter the streams, rivers, lakes, and
    other water bodies and damages municipal water
  • Fills reservoirs and streams interfering with
    navigation, and contributes to flooding

Inappropriate farming practices
  • Lead to
  • Soil degradation
  • Soil erosion
  • Loss of organic matter
  • Soil compaction
  • Acidification
  • Loss of nitrates, phosphates, and pesticides
  • Accumulation of salts and trace elements
  • Increased run-off of fertilizers and pesticides
    to water systems

Soil Degradation
  • 3 Processes
  • Physical
  • Wind erosion
  • Water erosion
  • Compaction
  • Chemical
  • Toxification
  • Salinization
  • Acidification
  • Biological
  • Declines in organic matter
  • Declines in carbon
  • Declines in the activity and diversity of soil

Rotational Cropping
  • Can play significant role in conserving soil,
    maintaining soil fertility, controlling pests,
    and also helps break up insect and disease cycles

Cover Crops
  • Cover crop of small grains, meadow, or hay
    planted in the fall after harvest of a row crop
    provides vegetative cover to reduce soil loss,
    hold nutrients, add organic matter to the soil,
    and sequester carbon

Crop Residue Management (CRM)
  • CRM leaves crop residues on soil surface through
    less intensive tillage practices.
  • Usually cost effective
  • Protects soil surface
  • Leads to higher farm economic returns

Conservation buffers and Structures
  • Structures and buffers reduce water erosion
    caused by rainfall
  • Very important component of farm soil management

Pest Management Practices
About pesticide
  • One of the first growing agricultural production
    inputs since the post WW2
  • 8.8 billions spent in the U.S. in 1997
  • Herbicides, Insecticides, Fungicides, and Other
  • Herbicides and insecticides account for most

  • Largest pesticide class (62 of total quality of
    pesticide active ingredients)
  • Weeds compete with crops for water, nutrients,
    and sunlight, and cause reduced yields.
  • Atrazine,2,4-D, dicamba, and trifluralin are
    widely used for more than 30 years

  • Account for 10 percent of the total quantity of
    pesticides applied in 1997
  • Damaging insect populations can vary annually
    depending on weather, pest cycles, cultural
    practices such as rotation and destruction of
    host crop residues
  • Preventive treatments and intervention treatments

Insecticides, cont.
  • Corn and cotton account for the largest shares of
    insecticide use
  • Chlorpyrifos and methyl parathion are the two
    most widely used insecticides

  • Applied to fewer acres than are herbicides and
    insecticides and account for the smallest shares
    of total pesticide use
  • Mostly used on fruits and vegetables to control

Other pesticides
  • Including soil fumigants, growth regulators,
    desiccants, and harvest aids
  • Use of these pesticides increases about 8 percent
    each year since 1990
  • About one-fifth of the total pounds of all active
    ingredients applied to the surveyed crops

Pesticide Treatment Trends
  • Corn
  • Corn is the largest crop in the U.S. in terms of
  • About 30 of the corn acreage in the 10 States
    received insecticides in 1997
  • Corn rootworm was the most frequently treated

Trends, cont.
  • Soybeans
  • Herbicides account for virtually all the
    pesticides used on soybeans
  • The number of acres treated and number of
    treatments per acre have increased, partly due to
    the growth in no-till soybean systems
  • 48 treated both before and after planting

Trends, cont.
  • Wheat
  • Wheat , which is one of the largest field crops
    in the U.S. is the least pesticide-intensive
  • Account for 27 of the surveyed crop acreage in
    1997, though only 4 of total pesticides
  • Herbicide used 47of the winter wheat and 82 of
    the spring and durum sheats

Trends, cont
  • Cotton
  • One of the most pesticide-intensive field crops
    in the U.S.
  • 96 of cotton acreage received herbicides
  • 74 received insecticides and 68 received other
    types of pesticides
  • Much greater insect infestation on cotton is due
    to its longer growing season

Trends, cont.
  • Potatoes
  • Most pesticide-intensive crops for all types of
  • Other Vegetable and Fruits
  • found it profitable to use insecticides and
    fungicides on a higher percentage of acreage than
    growers of most field crops do

Pesticide Expenditures
  • Annual pesticide expenditures for all farm uses
    increased from 6.3billion to 8.8 billion over
    1991-97 (40 increase)
  • Pesticide costs per acre increased for
  • Corn 20
  • Cotton 19
  • Soybeans 25
  • Wheat 10

Pesticide Resistance
  • Most likely to develop when a pesticide with a
    single mode of action is used over and over in
    the absence of any other management measures to
    control a specific pest
  • Herbicide-resistant weeds
  • Scouting to determine economic thresholds for
    treatments, alternating the use of pesticide
    families, and several other management strategies
    to combat resistance are in use

Biological Pest Management Practices
  • Include the use of pheromones, plant regulators,
    and microbial organisms
  • Biorational pesticides- microbial pesticides and
  • biologicals are unlikely to replace pesticides
    in the foreseeable future, due to the small
  • Beneficial organisms

Cultural Pest Management Practice
  • Number of production techniques and practices,
    including crop rotation, tillage, trap crops, and
    irrigation scheduling, and such and such
  • Controls work by preventing pest colonization of
    the crop, reducing pest populations, reducing
    crop injury, and increasing the number of natural
    enemies in the cropping system

Cultural Pest Management Practice, cont.
  • Crop rotation
  • One of the most important cultural techniques
  • 82 of the U.S. corn acreage
  • 89 of soybeans
  • Cultivation for weed control
  • Field sanitation and water management

Decision Criteria and Information
  • Scouting and Economic thresholds
  • To monitor the populations of major insect and
    other arthropod pests for several decades
  • Scouting on 70-90 of grape, orange, apple
    acreage, and thresholds used on a significant
    proportion of that acreage

Decision Criteria and Information, cont.
  • Sources of pest management information
  • Farm supply/chemical dealers
  • consultants/pest control advisors
  • Professional scouting services
  • Extension advisors

Decision Criteria and Information, cont.
  • Expert system
  • Integrate information on pest density, economic
    thresholds, application methods, and other
    elements of pest management into a computer
    software package
  • Precision Farming
  • Emerging technology that may allow a more
    efficient application of inputs by using yield
    monitors, satellite images, etc.

Factors Affecting Pest Management Decisions
  • Factors should be influenced by pest
    infestations, yield and quality losses caused by
    those infestations, as well as by crop prices and
    the costs of pesticides and alternative control
  • Changes in planted acres
  • Weather and other environmental conditions

Factors Affecting Pest Management Decisions, cont.
  • Pesticide prices
  • Increased 17 over 1991-96
  • Herbicides 17 increase
  • Fungicide almost 14 increase
  • Insecticide about 24 increase

Pesticide Regulatory Issues
  • EPA regulates pesticides under the Federal
    Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)
  • Pesticide residues in food under the Federal
    Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA)
  • The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act also contain
    provisions that affect pesticide manufacturers

Pesticide Regulatory Issues, cont.
  • Important regulatory actions
  • Ex.) Stop selling products containing cyanazine
    by 1999
  • Pesticide registration costs
  • The research and development of a new pesticide
    averages 11years and cost manufacturers 50-70
  • Regulatory streaming for reduced-risk pesticides

Pesticide Regulatory Issues, cont.
  • New pest control products and technology
  • The EPA registers new pesticides every year
  • Between 22 and 31 new pesticides per year from
    1994 to 1998 are registered
  • Genetically Engineered plants
  • Seed and chemical companies have expanded
    research on plant biotechnology because of the
    increasing costs to develop chemical pesticides

Pesticide Regulatory Issues, cont.
  • Genetically engineered plants
  • Reduces the time required to identify desirable
  • Allows a precise alteration of a plants traits
  • Development of genetically modified plants takes
    about 6 years and cost about 10 million
  • U.S. consumer acceptance

Alternative Pest Management Programs and
  • Integrated pest management (IPM) programs
    research and promote a combination of cultural,
    biological and pesticide efficiency tools
  • Areawide pest management systems implements IPM
    and biological approaches on an areawide basis

Alternative Pest Management Programs and
Initiatives, cont.
  • Biologically based pest management
  • Intended to complement IPM programs
  • USDA incentive payments
  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
    provides assistance to eligible farmers and
    ranchers to address natural resource concerns on
    their lands in an environmentally beneficial and
    cost-effective manner

Alternative Pest Management Programs and
Initiatives, cont.
  • Voluntary environmental standards
  • Initiated by the private sector
  • Enforced by firms themselves
  • Use sanctions such as peer pressure for
  • Focus on life-cycle impacts
  • Emphasize management systems

Nutrient Use and Management
Role of Plant Nutrients
  • Major nutrients
  • Nitrogen (N)
  • Phosphorus (P)
  • Potassium (K)
  • Other required nutrients
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Sulphur

Role of Plant Nutrients
  • If no nutrients applied, crops would deplete the
    soils store of nutrients and yields would decline

Why manage nutrients?
  • According to the EPA, nutrient pollution is
    leading cause of water quality impairment in
    lakes and estuaries and third leading cause in
  • This usually occurs because of leaching and

Nutrient Sources
  • Commercial fertilizer
  • Anhydrous ammonia is source of nearly all
    nitrogen fertilizer
  • Phosphate fertilizer produced by treating
    phosphate rock
  • Potash is used for potassium. Canada supplies US
    with 95 of their potash

Animal manure
  • Transportation costs limits using animal waste as
  • Among major field crops share of acres treated
    with manure
  • Corn 15
  • Soybeans 10
  • Wheat lt 3

Municipal and Industrial Wastes
  • Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)
  • Paper and paperboard
  • Glass
  • Metals
  • Plastics
  • Rubber
  • Leather
  • Textile
  • Wood
  • Food wastes
  • Yard trimmings
  • And others

Municipal and Industrial Wastes
  • Three major methods for MSW disposal
  • Land filling (61)
  • Recoveries for recycle (17)
  • Incineration (12)

Commercial fertilizer use
  • Was 7.5 million nutrient tons in 1960
  • Rose to 23.7 million nutrient tons in 1981
  • Dropped to 21.3 million nutrient tons in 1995
  • Rose again to 22 million nutrient tons in 1999

Factors Affecting Fertilizer use
  • Principal factors
  • Level and mix of planted cropland
  • Fertilizer prices
  • Commodity prices and programs
  • Other factors
  • Soil characteristics
  • Climate and weather
  • Crop rotations
  • Application technology
  • Nutrient management practices

Nutrient Balance
  • Nutrient mass calculates the residual nitrogen or
    phosphorus that may remain in the soil or be lost
    to the environment
  • Categorized as
  • High nutrient input exceeded output in harvested
    crop by more than 25
  • Moderate nutrient input exceeded output by less
    than 25
  • Negative total nutrient input was less than the

Nutrient management practices
  • Effective management can help reduce nutrient
    losses to the environment while sustaining
    long-term productivity and profitability
  • Includes
  • Assessing nutrient needs
  • Timing nutrient application
  • Placing nutrients close to crop roots

Assessing nutrient needs
  • Improved management requires more information
    about the nutrients and the use of balances to
    better assess needs

Timing nutrient application
  • Timing applications leaves less nutrients
    available for loss and can reduce total amount
  • Times vary by crop, texture of soil, climate, and
    stability of the fertilizer

Irrigation management
  • Irrigation management is important because
  • Too much water promotes leaching, affects
    nutrient concentration, and affects the rate of
    nutrient movement
  • Too little water can stunt plant growth, and
    reduce crop yield.

Improving nutrient management
  • Societies through government can
  • Adjust the anticipated costs or benefits of
    production practices
  • Regulate certain production practices
  • Establish markets for animal wastes
  • Research develop and demonstrate production
    practices less environmentally damaging