2009 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
1. Compare the productivity, profitability, energy self-sufficiency, and environmental impact (water and carbon) of a southeast peanut-based production system.
2. Develop improved irrigation and tillage strategies for peanut-based rotation systems.
3. Develop a sustainable, on-farm fuel production and processing system using peanut as a biodiesel feedstock.
4. Develop dedicated organic peanut-cotton-corn production, transition, and management systems for the Southeast.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
For each of the objectives, a comprehensive cost and return analysis will be conducted. Representative case farms will be constructed in a whole farm planning system (WholeFarm) framework to compare the feasibility of each objective individually, and to compare the options against each other. The overall goal is to determine how the system components will economically and technically integrate into an individual farm operation by evaluating changes in net farm income, crop and livestock production, energy use, and natural resources. The purpose of this research is to determine the impact of the results from the objectives on whole farm net income utilizing representative case farms that will be specified to encompass a wide variety of farm structures and sizes to address the needs of peanut producers. Comprehensive post-harvest quality evaluations will be conducted to study the impact on the post-harvest handling and processing segments of the industry to ensure that farm level decisions will not ultimately lead to the reduced competitiveness of U.S. peanuts and peanut products. Central to this research is technology transfer. As this research is being conducted, there will be a parallel effort in the development and validation of expert systems designed to improve management decisions to expedite technology transfer and industry adoption. The overall goal of this research is to conduct systems research related to irrigation, tillage, crop rotation sequences, on-farm generation of biodiesel, and organic production of peanut, cotton, and corn. The impacts of this research will be examined on the entire agricultural production system and not limited to one aspect of production management or one segment of the peanut industry. A holistic view of this research will be taken from the individual objectives to provide relevant information and management strategies for producers, handlers, processors, and related industry and governmental agencies.
Research and field demonstration plots were established in the Southeast and Southwest peanut producing regions to continue investigations related to crop rotations, irrigation scheduling (timing and amount), conservation tillage, and organic cropping systems (consisting of peanut, corn, and cotton). Significant data and information that will sustain peanut competitiveness was obtained focusing on reduced per unit cost of production, improve water use efficiency of cropping systems, and improved management strategies for both “certified” and transitional organic crop production. At each location, installation of soil, environment, and plant monitoring equipment was completed and inputs tracked in the Farm Suite model for economic analyses. Development of new irrigation scheduling tools for peanut, cotton, and corn is continuing. Established 4th year research plots in at multiple locations to evaluated germplasm for suitability in peanut biodiesel. Established first year advanced breeding line assay in Dawson, GA, soliciting 15 entries from peanut breeders in the SE US. Six on-farm sites in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi were established to demonstrate pilot-scale production of peanuts in a low-input, biodiesel style cropping system. Research on improved methods for conversion of peanut oil into biodiesel continued with emphasis on crude oil refinement prior to transesterification into biodiesel.
Five peanut cultivars with superior production performance and oil characteristics were identified. No data exists on cultivar selection to assist producers interested in peanut biodiesel production. Over 40 different cultivars were evaluated under differing management strategies (low and high input) to identify the cultivars best suited for biodiesel production from economic, agronomic, and engine performance standpoints. Data will provide producers information on cultivar selection and management intensity that will encourage on-farm biodiesel production.
Conservation tillage studies in peanut and cotton were completed. An objective of this project was to identify the amount of water savings that could accrue to conservation tillage methods while maintaining yield and quality. Studies focusing the interaction of conservation tillage with irrigation demonstrated water savings of 20% versus conventional tillage in peanut and cotton while maintaining crop yield and quality. Positive impacts include reductions in production cost, irrigation water, and emissions.