Reference Manual of LISA Resource Management Strategy Budgets for the Mid-South Region
Conventional agriculture requires specialized, capital intensive systems that are dependent upon high levels of purchased inputs. Excessive use of many of these inputs can have detrimental effects upon the environment, raise food safety issues and often result in lower returns to farmers and increased risk levels. Environmental and food safety improvements can be made, and farmers would gain financially from reduced cost levels associated with the incorporation of proven low-input farming methods.
The objective of this proposal was to develop Resource Management Strategy (RMS) crop budgets for selected crop enterprises and cropping systems located in the mid-south region. The budgets provide sound economic information on sustainable management practices to farmers, Extension personnel, ASCS and SCS offices and other interested individuals and organizations.
Standard budgetary analysis procedures were used to develop multiple crop RMS budgets for selected rotation schemes. Representative cropping strategies applicable to farmers in the mid-south region were identified and cropping alternatives analyzed.
Economic and environmental data were collected from various sources including farm records, experiment station data, and consultations with Extension specialists, County Extension Agents, SCS and EPA officials. Representative price and yield data were based on information provided by the Agricultural Statistical Reporting Services of representative states. Input costs, such as chemicals, fertilizer and interest were collected from a sampling of input suppliers and agricultural lending institutions. Budget format conforms to the SMART-FRMS system at the Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
Each RMS crop budget included a complementary set of decision aids to assist farmers in assessing the economic and environmental impacts of each decision. The decision aids included were break-even tables, costs and returns over relevant ranges of prices and yields, and various environmental impacts. Costs and returns were identified for various resource levels so farmers can easily adjust to reflect their own situation.
An advisory and review committee was organized. The committee was comprised of Extension Specialists, farmers, and TVA participants. The committee assisted in developing the work plan, identifying applicable resource management strategies and giving advice regarding practical applications for the different strategies. The final phase of committee assignments included a review and approval of the final document listing budgets for the selected Resource Management Strategy Crop Budget Manual.
The study resulted in the development of detailed cost, return, break-even and other budgetary data for 300 enterprise, rotation, and system budgets. These include traditional crop, livestock, fruit, vegetable, and specialty crops; alternative tillage system budgets for major field and forage crops including conventional, no-tillage, conservation tillage, contour and various contour strips; as well as low-input livestock operations, rotational systems, and organic crop budgets.