SDSU Extension publishes the South Dakota Pest & Crop Newsletter to provide growers, producers, crop consultants, and others involved in crop production with timely news pertinent to management of pests, diseases, and weeds in South Dakota.
There was a time in agriculture when greater yields always meant greater profitability. Today’s economic environment is characterized by high input costs and depressed commodity prices. Under this scenario when the optimum input/output relationship has been attained, more inputs do not necessarily result in greater returns on investment. Therefore, todays’ agriculture paradigm requires management that addresses production “optimization”. This is the point where a previously known level of inputs maximizes outputs before incurring into greater investments that result into diminishing returns.
Two-year corn-soybean rotation coupled with heavy chemical inputs has become the routine practice of agricultural production in the Midwestern United States. According to USDA/NASS data, corn and soybean prices received by producers in South Dakota both reached the peak levels of $7.39 and $16.00 per bushel, respectively, in August, 2012. Such unprecedented price has driven up the acreage planted for corn and soybean, at the expense of other crops and grassland.
Cash prices are separated by region and a simple cash average price is then calculated for each specific region. The basis is calculated by subtracting the closing futures price of the nearby futures contract from the average cash price of grain in each of the six regions.
Cover crops are generally defined as crops planted between cash crops to cover and protect the soil. Some demonstrated benefits of cover crops include: reduced soil erosion, increased soil organic matter, increased biological diversity, increased nitrogen supply, and weed control. Depending on the farmers’ objectives, different species of cover crops can be planted. For example, if a farmer’s main objective is to increase nitrogen supply, then legume cover crops best suited to the farm area should be selected.
With producers evaluating marketing strategies and the looming March 15 insurance sales deadline, several trends are emerging. By monitoring these trends, producers may be able to refine their marketing plans for corn, soybeans and spring wheat. New crop futures prices are tallied during February and their average during the month determines the projected price for insurance purposes.
Conducted since the mid-1990s, the USDA Agricultural Management Resource Survey (ARMS) is a multi-phase, multi-level nationwide survey of agricultural producers that collects information on a large sample of farms and their characteristics. Data collected includes financial performance, expenses, revenues, farm organization characteristics, farm management techniques, use of contracts, and operator demographic characteristics.
Crop performance testing results are released annually through the activities of SDSU Extension and the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station at SDSU.
After a recent trip to Ethiopia, I began thinking about how farming on the steep, terraced hillsides of the rural highlands there might relate to agriculture across the rolling plains of South Dakota. As part of the Farmer-to-Farmer Program, jointly sponsored by USAID and Catholic Relief Services, I had the opportunity to speak with nearly 300 smallholder farmers about fertility and soil health.
From 1991 to 2015, agricultural land values in South Dakota, and in most other major agricultural production states, appreciated each year. In 2016 on average all agricultural use land decreased in South Dakota except rangeland, which will be discussed in a future article.