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ARE Develops Tools for Planting Decisions that Helps Farmers, Lenders, and Agents

Farmer heads to a field on a Rowan County farm outside Salisbury.

As we dive further into planting season, it is especially important to make smart planting decisions. ARE Extension professionals Nick Piggott and Derek Washburn developed a crop comparison tool for NC growers. Mac Malloy, Robeson County Agriculture Extension Agent, recently wrote an article about the benefits of the new tool.

Just the other day, I got to try a new tool designed to help remove those dreaded weeds out of your yard. It was similar to one of those “weed popper” devices I’ve seen advertised on television. I have to say, I was very skeptical at first, but the newly designed weed claw did seem to do a good job, especially with the dandelions that were so prevalent.

One thing I have learned over the years is that people love tools, especially farmers. Think about it! There are stores, catalogs, and websites full of devices to help make a job easier. I often get a kick out of the marketing tactics of some advertised items. Apparently, it’s not hard to talk someone into trying something that will make a job easier. I don’t know if it’s a sign of how our society is evolving technically or a sign of – I imagine some old-timers would say – how lazy our society has become. Regardless, efforts continue to redesign and create tools to make a task less painful.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension is working hard to create tools to make jobs in agriculture a little easier. Agricultural producers have no shortage of job responsibilities – mechanic, meteorologist, scientist, machine operator, financial planner, agronomist, computer operator, animal caretaker, and family, just to name a few. Many have engineered their own tools and gadgets to help them in their daily chores. However, much less effort gets put into making tools for financial decisions. This need has been addressed with a helpful tool created by Dr. Nick Piggott, Professor and Extension Specialist, and Derek Washburn, Extension Associate, in the Department of Agricultural Resource Economics at NC State University. These gents have released a “Crop Comparison Tool” that is designed to allow a side-by-side comparison of corn, soybean, small grain, and cotton profitability. It allows the flexibility for each user to input their individual cost of production and anticipated (or actual) price for each commodity. The tool provides valuable information about gross production costs and net returns on a per-acre basis. In addition, it allows the user to enter their desired acres of each commodity, which creates a summary table with total potential farm income at the click of a mouse. It might not be a tool for the service truck, but in my opinion, it will serve as a valuable tool in the office to help farmers determine planting intentions and manage financial risk, especially during times of tight margins. Ag lenders have also provided positive feedback as a valuable tool to assist with creating needed documentation for obtaining operating loans.