Total Resource Budgeting of LISA Related Management Strategies
The objective of this project is to help farmers make logical, economic choices among conventional and low-input enterprises and technologies in developing more effective farm financial management strategies. Specific project objectives are to:
1.) Develop enterprise budget information, including costs, returns and total resource use, that will support state and regional Extension-research projects designed to develop and disseminate information pertaining to low-input, sustainable agriculture (LISA).
2.) Contribute to the program development and support of SMART-FRMS national project to provide farmers with a practical, usable decision support system needed to evaluate potential impacts of alternative enterprises and technologies on expected revenues, whole-farm risks and sustainability of their farming operations.
Approximately 40 rotational enterprise systems deemed sustainable and environmentally compatible were developed using the LISA-FDSS (SMART) software program. Whole farm analyses indicated significant variations in aggregate returns and/or risk exposure. Those systems combining crop mixes with livestock enterprises (substituting waste for commercial fertilizer and/or feedstuffs) showed promise in terms of long-term profitability while maintaining environmental integrity.
The results should provide producers with an assessment of the interaction of both economic and biological factors. Producers will be able to evaluate farm/field level alternatives given their own set of resources and criteria in terms of production, financial and environmental limitations. The magnitude of risk and trade-offs will enhance each decision maker’s ability to transition into management strategies which are economically and environmentally sound.
An interdisciplinary team of Extension specialists were assembled to provide input in the development of approximately 40 rotational and/or crop/livestock systems based on their feasibility and adoptability for Alabama and southern agriculture.
Preliminary findings indicate a large degree of potential risk (production, environmental, financial) inherent to those systems evaluated. Due to current limitations in the SMART system software, final analyses and field testing with producers have not been completed.
Beginning with the final field-testing stages of the project, Extension personnel and selected producers will be trained using computer software and underlying methodologies. Extension personnel have already received training on sustainable agricultural system approaches and methodologies plus exposure to the SMART system software. Forthcoming Extension publications describing the study (and potential impact) will accompany area workshops. Computer software support and documentation will also be made available to Extension personnel to enhance producer adoption and analyses.
The work has been coordinated with John Ikerd’s LISA-FDSS Program and the Center for Farm Financial Management at Minnesota via the SMART system software. Over 40 systems (databanks) have been completed and shared with Minnesota. Final whole-farm analyses will be completed using the newer version of the SMART software.