WHETHER AND HOW TO INVEST IN SITE-SPECIFIC CROP MANAGEMENT: RESULTS OF FOCUS GROUP INTERVIEWS IN MICHIGAN, 1996

How do farmers and agribusinesses decide whether to adopt site-specific crop management (SSCM)? In spite of many agronomic experiments on variable rate fertilizer application, the broader adoption question has received little attention. In order to discuss SSCM adoption issues, five focus group meetings were held with 22 Michigan farmers in early 1996 plus a sixth focus group meeting with 6 agribusiness representatives. This report summarizes results, provides frequency counts of responses, and includes the questions that guided the focus group meetings. The farmers interviewed were overwhelmingly concerned with profitability and risk of adopting SSCM. Yield monitors were the most widely adopted SSCM technology; several farmers had hired grid soil sampling , but only one farmer had used variable rate input application. Most farmers interviewed viewed grid soil sampling as very costly. They also reported a variety of unexpected, often non-monetary costs due to learning, incompatibilities among software and equipment, and delays in obtaining repairs and spare parts. Although benefits from SSCM were expected rather than realized, both farm and agribusiness managers identified a variety of potential benefits that went beyond the conventional expectations of input cost savings and yield gains. These benefits included carry-over of soil nutrients, off-field data sales, yield risk reduction, cheaper on-farm experimentation, and improved water quality. Most of the farmers believed that yield mapping would provide better information for all-around decision making that would pay off in unexpected ways. Despite agreement that SSCM data was "owned by the farmer," respondents differed in instances of rented land (renter vs. landlord ownership). Agribusiness representatives distinguished between ownership of raw data (farmer owned) and data interpretation and analysis (agribusiness owned).


Issue Date:
1996
Publication Type:
Working or Discussion Paper
PURL Identifier:
http://purl.umn.edu/11689
Total Pages:
24
Series Statement:
Staff Paper 96-37 (revised 12/97)




 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-23

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