Submitted to: Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 31, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Currently, Iowa farmers manage their fields using either traditional practices, where fields are managed as whole units (TM), or by integrated crop management techniques (ICM), where sub-components of fields are managed independently. The recent advent of site-specific farming (SSF) allows fields to be managed using different levels of inputs which can vary almost continuously across a field. Iowa farmers are faced with determining which management practices are the most economically and environmentally sustainable for their specific farm size, cash flow, and land characteristics. Both ICM and SSF require increasing levels of cost by the farmer, however, they can provide increased profits with reduced environmental consequences for some fields. The purpose of this project is to analyze the economic and environmental consequences of various levels of farm management in order to determine when it would pay to adopt more intensive management practices. We are using currently available computer models that predict growth of corn and soybeans to determine the yield resulting from optimum inputs for each management strategy. By using this technique, the optimum plant population, variety, and nutrients can be computed either for TM, or for ICM and SSF based on the distribution of specific soil characteristics within the field. To date, a corn and soybean crop growth model have been calibrated to predict spatial yield distributions in a 40 acre field near Ames, Iowa. We have also begun to use the models to determine optimum management practices for this field. Economic analysis is planned to determine which management strategy is more profitable long term for this field.