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Sunday, December 16, 2018

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5152. Peterson, C.L., E.L. Michalson, and K.N. Hawley. 1988. Minimum input wheat production.. Amer. Soc. Agric. Engineers Paper 88-1058.
The paper describes a computer decision support program under development at the University of Idaho to help growers determine the most economic levels of inputs. It focuses on machinery decisions and fertilizers, but requests information regarding all aspects of farm management. It can produce "what-if" scenarios, examining different production strategies under various price conditions. Minimum input farming is particularly concerned with front-end capital requirements. It is an expansion of minimum tillage to include variables beyond yield and erosion as measures of success. Lack of adequate production functions relating tillage, fertilizer and pesticide use to crop yield are a major limitation. The Idaho fertilizer guide was not useful. Two MIF field plots were set up to test the program, using reduced fertilizer and reduced tillage for MIF. Costs of production were reduced on the MIF plots, which had net returns of $0.53/bu versus $0.33/bu for the conventional plots. Most of the gain was due to the reduction in phosphate fertilizer.

6829. Thomas, D.L. and E.O. Heady. 1977. Alternative crop exports and fertilizer restrictions in 1980: effects on farm prices, food costs, and farm income.. Misc. Report, Center for Agr. and Rural Development, Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA. 109 pp..
Farm prices, food costs, and farm income variables are examined under several subroutines of 2 basic scenarios: continued trends, and a 50% reduction in fertilizer inputs. This is a rather convoluted exercise lacking a well developed conclusion. Generally, farm prices, food costs, and farm income all increase under the reduced fertilizer scenario.

7625. Willett, Gayle. 1989. How much fertilizer is needed to maximize profit?. Notes prepared for Extension training, Dept. of Agr. Economics,.
In Washington state, fertilizer represents 32% of the variable costs for winter wheat and 26% for spring barley. The paper discusses various strategies for growers to use in deciding on a fertilizer rate. This depends on their financial condition and their degree of risk tolerance. A Kansas study of 3000 dryland wheat farmers found that the 25% low income farms had 9% less yield than the 25% high income farms, even though production costs were almost double for the former. The low income farms spent nearly 4 times more for fertilizer. Yet, in general, the cost of underfertilizing is greater than the cost of overfertilizing. Profit maximization must also be tempered by external costs due to excess use of fertilizer. Several specific strategies are outlined for an individual to determine the optimum level of fertilizer.

9942. Ayer, H. and N. Conklin. 1990. Economics of Ag Chemicals: Flawed methodology and a conflict of interest quagmire.. Choices, Fourth qtr. 1990, p.24,26,28,30.
In this paper, Ayer and Conklin discuss what they consider to be the flawed methodology of a paper entitled Impacts of Reduced Chemical Use on Crop Yield and Costs, by Knutson, Taylor, Penson and Smith (KTPS) of Texas A & M. Some of their complaints are that the paper does not consider a price-induced substitution for commercial nitrogen fertilizers, it does not account for the conservation practices that would be induced, it freezes imports to a pre-chemical ban lavel, it is unrealistic and irrelevant to consider a total ban policy, and that there is the appearance of a conflict of interest due to partial funding by private industry. For these reasons, Ayer and Conklin feel the study should not be used to formulate agricultural policy regarding the use of chemicals. A rebuttal is included by the authors of the paper in question. They respond that the 140 scientists involved in the study used estimates that reflected changes in management practices, utilizing green manures where feasible and limited supplies of animal manures. They feel the model they used does allow for research to continue at the same level and they feel there is little basis to believe there will be an increase in appropriations to research. They explain that a pre-chemical ban is necessary for imports to limit flooding of the U. S. market and they dispute the charge that private funding implies "cooked" results.

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