Just-in-time Information for Crop Producers and Crop Advisors

Joel DeJong, Crops Field Specialist, Northwest

Problem Statement:

A major role for Extension Crop Specialists is to get research-based information into the hands of agronomy advisors and crop producers so they can use this information to make crop production decisions more wisely. Industry has adopted a just-in-time model for production, which seems efficient and affective. How do we, in Extension, use just-in-time thinking to get good information for decision-making into the hands of crop producers and advisors, so they can use research-based information to make those decisions?
Programmatic Response:

Although not all crop producers utilize e-mail, and almost all crop advisors do it looks like e-mail could and should be a tool used to contact these decision-makers in a timely fashion. The "Crop Update" newsletter was first distributed 8 years ago.  "Crop Update" is sent mostly by e-mail (it was originally a FAX version newsletter, but technology has improved, and we adapted), with just a few receiving it by fax at this time.  The newsletter is sent almost weekly during the crop growing season and about monthly in the winter months.  The newsletter tries to predict what problems will be faced in the near future, and make recommendations on how to manage these problems. Also, if a problem has arisen, then timely information for management of these problems is shared, too. Many hot links to timely university newsletter articles are included as part of the newsletter. At last count, about 500 people are receiving the "Crop Update" newsletter - with a survey indicating that this newsletter is forwarded to at least another 30 readers.  Approximately one-fourth are agronomists/seed dealers/farm managers/lenders, etc.; the rest are crop producers.  Most are located in NW Iowa, a few are regional agronomists.

A survey was included as a part of the first issue of 2006, attempting to measure some of the impact this information had on management decisions in 2005.  Thirty-eight readers responded to the survey.  Of the respondents, 37 indicated on their survey that they made better agronomic or pest management decisions (or recommendations) because of information supplied by this newsletter, and one who responded maybe. Here is the percentage of respondents who reported specific management changes based on the newsletter information:
- Improved grain storage management 16%
- Used relative feed value information provided to improve alfalfa harvest quality 13%
- Scouted alfalfa weevil/potato leafhopper & made better treatment decisions 34%
- Made better stand evaluation/replant decisions 63%
- Used information to scout and make treatment decisions for soybean aphids 89%
- Dug and assessed corn roots, to better manage rootworms in 2006 50%
- Improved soybean cyst nematode management 21%
- Monitored for western bean cutworms at timing suggested in the newsletter 42%
- Visited N calculator web site to help determine N rates for 2006 29%
- Was more confident on managing rust in 2005 68%

One question on the survey asked what effect these changes, made because of information gleaned from this newsletter, had on their operation (or their customer's operations because of agronomist recommendations using this information) in dollars per acre, and on how many acres.  Twenty (53%) filled out both parts of the question. I separated the data out between those who were crop advisors and those who were farming. Both groups indicated that the information they put into use made on average a $15 per acre difference, with the crop producers (n=11) indicating it was used on an average of 495 acres, and crop advisors (n=9) indicating the information was used on an average of over 12,500 acres per advisor. The financial impact (either savings from not-treating because they were below threshold numbers, reducing input costs, or increasing yield because of management changes put into place) from this small subset of the newsletter list had a calculated impact of $85,000 for the farmers who responded, and a $1,705,5000 impact for clients of the crop advisors who responded.

Timeliness of this newsletter allows for readers to have useable data in the hands of these decision-makers when they need it. Obviously, sharing this information with those crop advisors can make even a much larger impact on cropping decisions in Iowa. The Crop Update newsletter will continue because it provides just-in-time decision-making information to the part of out audience who uses this technology.

March 29, 2006
103 - Nutrient Management and 142 - Integrated Pest and Crop Management

Page last updated: July 9, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu