An Economic Analysis of Producer and Industry Level Impacts of Low-Input Agriculture
Agriculture is a dynamic industry in a state of constant change. An area receiving an increased
attention is that of low-input agriculture. Currently, information on production costs and returns,
production levels, etc. needed to evaluate the feasibility of low-input production technologies is
limited. Proposed changes in current agricultural practices must be carefully evaluated if they
are to be adopted and succeed. There must be a clear understanding of the changes in risk and
1) Develop baseline data along with cost, return, and income budgets for low-input agricultural
2) Provide a farm system economic assessment of low-input agriculture on individual farms by
size and type of farm. Information analyzed by type and size of farming system include income
level, labor needs, risk assessment, management responsibilities, soil erosion, fertilizer and
pesticide use, energy use along with water and air pollution.
3) Analyze the impacts of alternative government programs on low input agriculture, which
involve industry and sectoral analysis.
Budgets were prepared for use of swine manure in crop production. These budgets were
prepared from existing research on nutrients in swine manure and application techniques. These
budgets were then combined into a linear programming procedure to evaluate system impacts of
low-input production strategies on a representative farm. The representative farm was developed
based on size and type of production enterprises. Through this approach a system comparison
1) The use of manure to help meet corn production nitrogen requirements requires hiring
part-time labor. This allows the operator to fully utilize all crop acreage and swine facilities.
2) It is profitable to hire additional labor required by manure application in order to take
advantage of nutrients provided in the manure.
3) Application and incorporation of manure in a split spring/fall system, when nutrient
availability is highest, is more profitable than either the fall or winter only applications.
4) Total labor demands per day during peak periods do not exceed that which would be
considered feasible for a full time operator with one additional person.
5) The manure handling system did not affect planting times. Planting times are consistent with
that which would be expected for this type of farm. All crops are planted by mid-May.
6) The trade off of spreading out planting dates and more fully utilizing operator labor was more
than offset by reduced yields resulting from a later planting date. It was more cost effective to
hire labor to enable earlier planting.
7) Farm profit is increased through effective use of manure from swine production
Potential Contributions and Practical Applications:
Some general contributions were creating an awareness of the economic value of livestock
(swine) manure in row crop production. It appears to be cost effective to incorporate available
livestock manure into row crop production plans, which allows a reduction in commercial
fertilizer application rates and costs.