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Online Tools Help Farmers Make The Tough Decisions

Farmers face a daunting mass of decisions each year as they plan for the coming growing season.
A collection of online decision assistance tools from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is designed to help soybean farmers develop a plan based on their unique location and field conditions that will help them earn maximum net income.
The Excel-based tools are available for download from the division’s website:
“Decision tools that perform complex data analysis but require only minimal input from producers are powerful tools,” said Michael Popp, Division of Agriculture economist. “They help farmers make more informed decisions that help to maximize yield, manage risk and maximize net returns or profitability.”
Popp developed SOYMAP based on extensive research by Larry Purcell, the Altheimer Chair for Soybean Production Research, and Montse Salmeron, post-doctoral research associate. It uses actual yield and irrigation data from 9 locations to calibrate a biophysical crop growth simulation model. This allowed estimation of yield, irrigation and other physiological crop data for 13 locations and 30 years of weather data to help farmers to assess which soybean maturity group will perform most profitably while also observing yield and thereby return risk.
SOYRISK, released this year, adds to the decision-making power of SOYMAP by calculating maturity group by planting date choices that either minimize risk, maximize net returns or meet a determined limit for irrigation.
Like SOYMAP, Popp and graduate assistant Wes Weeks developed SOYRISK based on extensive research by Purcell and Salmeron.
Popp, graduate assistant Karen Lindsay, Norsworthy and Bagavathiannan also developed PAM, a decision support tool aimed at managing Palmer amaranth, or pigweed, in corn, cotton and soybean production.
Based on research by University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and a Texas A&M scientist, PAM uses point and click tools to help growers develop a strategy specific to their farms to combat pigweed over the course of 10 years.
Also available on the Decision Support Software site are FORCAP, to help beef producers with a host of management choices, and ENCAP, that offers analysis and planning for energy crops.

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