Date of this Version
Agricultural Systems 200 (2022) 103434.
CONTEXT: Producer-reported data can be used to identify suites of management practices that lead to higher yield and profit. However, a rigorous validation of the approach in relation to its potential impact on farmer yield and profit is lacking.
OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to validate a producer-data approach on its capability to guide on-farm evaluation of management practices with greatest potential for increasing producer yield and profit. We show proof of concept using soybean in the North Central US region as a case study.
METHODS: We used a combination of regression tree analysis and a spatial framework to determine practices with highest influence on yield for specific climate domains across the region. These practices were used as a basis for designing an ‘improved’ management package for each domain. The impact associated with adoption of the ‘improved’ management package on producer yield, seed constituents, and profit was evaluated against a ‘reference’ treatment that follows farmer management via replicated on-farm trials across 100 sites over two crop seasons.
RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Average yield was 278 kg ha-1 higher in the improved versus reference management, equivalent to a closure of the current exploitable yield gap by 40%. In turn, adoption of the improved management led to an average increase of $76 ha-1 in net profit. Sensitivity analysis showed that adoption of the improved management packages should increase farmer profit across a wide range of grain price scenarios, with very small downside risk. Seed protein concentration was negatively associated with the positive yield advantage of the improved management, whereas seed oil concentration tended to increase.
SIGNIFICANCE: Analysis of producer data can accelerate discovery, evaluation, and adoption of suites of management practices that consistently lead to higher farmer yield and profit, which, in turn, would help speed up current rates of yield gain.