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The Management Calendar
Farm Business Management Update, April/May 2005
By Gordon Groover, Extension Economist, Farm Management, Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech
Listed below are the items that need to be included on the farm business manager's calendar for spring 2005.
- Fertilizer costs are tied to oil costs and both are reaching some record prices. Some key points:
- Resist the urge to over fertilize and use previous crop yield data to help target the most profitable use of fertilizer.
- Remember that profits are maximized when the value of the last unit of fertilize equals the value of the increase in the yield. As fertilizer prices increase, the amount applied to a crop to achieve profitable yields must be reduced (assuming that the crop price does not change). I quote, "That's easy for you to say since you're not the one that has to figure out what that means on the Jones's field." Use crop yield data, soil test information, fertilizer histories of each field, and consult with your extension agent for potential published field plot yield data that might shed light on yield responses to nitrogen in your area.
- Consider split applications of nitrogen as certainty of moisture conditions increase during the growing season. Remember that the increase yield from the additional application of nitrogen must cover the added costs of the nitrogen and the added costs for application and labor.
- If you have detailed yield maps, soil productivity, and technology for variable rate application - now is the time to make use of the technology to target apply fertilizer based on profitable yields.
- Cut fertilizer costs by using poultry litter. Farmers outside of Augusta, Page, Rockingham, or Shenandoah counties should investigation participation in the 2004 pilot project to develop self-sustaining poultry litter markets. If farmers meet all requirements, cost-share is available to move litter out of the major poultry producing counties. For additional information on the program and requirements for cost share, contact your local soil and water conservation district, Virginia Cooperative Extension office, or DCR regional office for an application. A brochure can be found at http://www.dcr.state.va.us/sw/docs/poultry.pdf . Funding will be allocated for complete and approved applications on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information call Scott Ambler at (804) 786-2235.
- Review first quarter livestock records and compare them to last year's; look for problems and successes.
- Make sure your Virginia state income taxes are mailed in before May 1.
- Follow-up with your lender to review and update your line-of-credit needs.
- Farmers, extension agents, and anyone interested in risk management, marketing, budgets, and other educational tools and products should take a look at the National Risk Management library at the University of Minnesota http://www.agrisk.umn.edu/Default.asp. For example, approximately 80 publications dealing with grain, livestock, niche markets, and price risk management have been developed by Agricultural Economists all over the U.S.
- New from USDA Economic Research Service is a publication answering the question posed by many, "How Do U.S. Farmers Plan for Retirement?" Retirement and succession planning are of considerable importance to farm households and we have good reasons to believe that they are affected by savings and retirement policies in ways that are different from the rest of the Nation's households. This article examines how farmers save for retirement as well as their dependency on social security. The complete article can be found on the Amber Waves site at http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/April05/Features/FarmRetirement.htm.
- Anyone trying to sell more vegetables and fruits to consumers should read the Amber Waves article providing some basic information on how and why U.S. consumers purchase and consume fruits and vegetables. The article is titled "Understanding Economic and Behavioral Influences on Fruit and Vegetable Choices." The article can be found at http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/April05/Features/FruitAndVegChoices.htm
- Prepare crop record keeping system for a new year. If you do not have a crop record keeping system, consider purchasing the Doane's hand-kept crop and machinery notebook, "Field and Equipment Record Book." This notebook provides an inexpensive way of getting started. It can be ordered via the Internet at http://www.doane.com/bookshelf/shop.php or by calling 1-800-535-2342, ext.220. The price is less than $20.00. For a selection of computerized crop record keeping software take a look at the Agricultural Software Directory from Alberta Agricultural Food and Rural Development site: http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/econ4118?opendocument.
- Update your marketing plan by collecting information on prices and world market situations. Be sure to check with your local Farm Service Agency for changes in government programs and signup deadlines. Review USDA and other crop and price forecasts. All USDA reports are listed on the internet and can be view by going to Agency Reports on the USDA newsroom page.
- Interested in research and extension publications on organic livestock production beef, dairy, poultry, swine, and small ruminants? Then take a look at the Alternative Farming Systems Information Center's publication, "Organic Livestock Production: A Bibliography." The bibliography list work from 1974 to September 2004. The full publication can be found at http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/AFSIC_pubs/srb0405bib.htm.
- Interested in learning more about personnel management? Take a look at the Iowa State Ag Decision Maker site for the following article Hiring Good Employees http://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/wholefarm/pdf/c5-100.pdf and Improving your Interviewing Skills at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/ both authored by Bob Tvrdik.
Virginia Cooperative Extension