Agricultural Economics Department


First Advisor

Jay Parsons

Date of this Version



Coufal, Eric. 2019. Modeling And Economic Analysis Of A Crop-Livestock Production System Incorporating Cereal Rye As A Forage. Department of Agricultural Economics. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Agricultural Economics, Under the Supervision of Professor Jay Parsons. Lincoln, Nebraska: April 2019.

Copyright (c) 2019 Eric R. Coufal


This thesis consists of two chapters using agent-based modeling for a crop-livestock production system incorporating human labor. The first chapter examines the principles used to develop a fundamental simulation pertaining to grazing cereal rye (Secale cereal L.) with calves. Within the software guidelines, the base model has the ability to capture diverse system interactions between livestock/plants and land management with human labor efficiency. AnyLogic incorporates agent-based modeling while combining with discrete event modeling and system dynamics. The purpose of the model was to find the economic returns of grazing cover crops relative to the area of Mead, Nebraska. In our simulation model, we used data from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Climate Center. The model was developed to create more in depth case studies to help further the understanding of crop and livestock interactions through simulation. AnyLogic is a complex tool that has the capabilities of discovering the interactions between crops, livestock, land, and humans.

In the second chapter, we examined the economic returns of grazing cereal rye with calves versus mechanically removing the cover crop. This analysis evaluated production risks due to weather variability and cattle market risk to determine the theoretical best outcome using existing weather and market data. Working with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s agronomy and animal science departments, we modified a cereal rye growth production model first proposed by Feyereisen et al. (2006) to match recent on-farm production trial experience in Mead, Nebraska. Based on simulation results over multiple years, it was determined that mechanically harvesting cereal rye is a better option as a long term fixed strategy than grazing cereal rye. This is largely due to cattle market risk during the spring grazing period. The costs associated with mechanically removing the crop depend on farm size and equipment used.

Both chapters utilize a model simulating the grazing of cover crops developed using the AnyLogic software while the analysis on mechanically removing the forage was completed with the use of a University of Nebraska-Lincoln cover crop budget. Through bridging the gap between production and economic information, this study sought to develop a financial comparison between the two cover crop strategies for eastern Nebraska farmers.

Advisor: Jay Parsons