9408 A Computer Decision Aid for the VRT Investment Decision in Cotton Production

Thursday, January 8, 2009: 10:00 AM
Salon C (Marriott Riverwalk Hotel)
D. F. Mooney, J. A. Larson, R. K. Roberts and B. C. English, Department of Agricultural Economics, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

Producers interested in precision agriculture lack information on the profitability of variable rate technology (VRT) systems for agricultural sprayers. VRT has the potential to boost farm profits by avoiding unnecessary input use and therefore lowering production costs. The objective of this research was to evaluate cost and return tradeoffs required to pay for investment in VRT mapping and application systems used in cotton production. To accomplish this, a new module of the CPAIDA (Cotton Precision Agriculture Investment Decision Aid) computer program was developed. CPAIDA utilizes a combination of partial budgeting, breakeven analysis, and sensitivity analysis techniques to evaluate the input cost savings and yield gains required to pay for an investment in precision agriculture technologies. Cost factors included in the CPAIDA VRT module include capital equipment, information gathering costs, labor time to collect and analyze spatial data, farm size, and the number of input decisions over which VRT can be allocated. Capital equipment costs include a variable rate controller-monitor (VRC), a global positioning system (GPS), and a geographic information system (GIS). Information gathering costs include costs for subscription to an aerial imagery service provider or for the purchase and installation of vehicle-mounted sensors. Payback parameters include input savings, yield gains, and increased field efficiency through reduced boom overlap or increased field speed. VRT investments were found to be profitable for a range of farm sizes and input cost savings levels. Results indicate that an overall input savings level of 11% would be required to pay for VRT systems utilizing either aerial imaging or high-resolution sensors for information-gathering. Considering herbicides only, an 18-19% level of input cost savings would be required to pay for such as VRT system. Results were most sensitive to the cotton area planted and assumed equipment lifetime.

See more of: Cotton Economics and Marketing - Thursday Morning Session
See more of: Cotton Economics and Marketing Conference
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