As we approach the second decade of the 21st century, it continues to be clear that long held paradigms of agriculture production and management are changing. Bigger, more reliable, and faster machinery has resulted in increased farming capacity per farmer. With this increased capacity comes greater competition for land resources which increases the rent paid and value of land resources. With land and other production costs escalating, producers must make better and better management – economic decisions because per acre margins of profitability continue to be squeezed. Each producer is in competition with his neighbor. Survival requires that a farmer focus his management on being a low cost per bushel producer.

Within the last two decades there have been 3 major paradigm shifts that have significantly impacted production agronomics. They are the introduction of biotechnology, the information age coming to agriculture, and the transformation from agriculture being our nation’s source of food, feed, and fiber to our nation’s source of food, feed, fiber, and energy. These changes further emphasis the need to increase the intensity of management.

Over the last several years at the beginning of a course that I teach, I have asked university senior agronomy majors to define in analytical terms “per bushel cost of production”. The answers that were given were seldom analytical and usually indeterminate.

Our goal with this work is to provide a basic understanding of analytical tools, which will allow a producer to understand and manage agronomic production as an analytical objective process.

Discussed here is a simple, cost effective (time and money), and understandable method that will enable most producers to analyze the profitability of a field.

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