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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SUSTAINING PEANUT CROPPING SYSTEMS COMPETITIVENESS
2011 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.

1.A. Determine the optimal Southeastern states irrigation strategies for specific peanut rotation sequences that minimize soil-borne disease pressure.

2. Develop improved irrigation and tillage strategies for peanut-based rotation systems.

2.A. Develop handling and processing strategies for peanuts produced for biodiesel.

2.B. Quantify the costs/benefits and economies-of-scale and size required for processing peanuts as biodiesel for on-farm use.

2.C. Examine the value-added opportunities for the co-products from peanut feedstocks used for biodiesel.

3. Develop a sustainable, on-farm fuel production and processing system using peanut as a biodiesel feedstock.

3.A. Develop economic whole-system transition and management strategies for irrigated and non-irrigated organic peanut-cotton-corn production.

3.B. Determine the added identity preservation costs to handle, process, and market organic crops, and develop methods to reduce added costs.

3.C. Determine post-harvest quality attributes of organically produced crops.

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.


3.Progress Report
Research and field demonstration plots were established in the Southeast peanut producing region to continue investigations related to crop rotations, irrigation scheduling (timing and amount), conservation tillage, and application of Biochar as a soil amendment. Significant data and information that will sustain peanut competitiveness was obtained focusing on reduced per unit cost of production, improved 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 a new irrigation scheduling tool for peanut, cotton, and corn called Primed Acclimation is continuing. Continued research plots to evaluate germplasm for suitability in peanut biodiesel. Established the first Southeast U.S. cropping systems research project using Biochar in an irrigation by Biochar amount study to address improvements in water availability, crop productivity, and economic returns associated with Biochar. This is a long term study to provide the Southeast U.S. agricultural sector with data and information on the effectiveness of Biochar in crop production which will be used by producers for farm management decisions and local entrepreneurs interested in producing and distributing Biochar.


4.Accomplishments
1. The first stage of an organic crop production study in irrigated and non-irrigated peanut, cotton, and corn was successfully completed. An objective of this project was to develop improved methods for managing organic production as well as defining the required price for organic commodities that make them equal in profitability with conventionally produced crops. Studies concluded that under certain yield and price combinations, organic crop production could offer economic feasible alternatives. Manuscript and technical bulletins will be prepared to document these findings.

2. Research and development on an improved irrigation scheduling model for peanuts, corn, and cotton was continued and will be completed soon. “Primed Acclimation” is the regulated withholding of irrigation during specific growth stages to cause physiological changes related to improved water use efficiency. The “Primed Acclimation” model showed slight yield increases and 40% savings in irrigation water in peanuts and cotton compared to traditional irrigation scheduling. Evaluation of five peanut cultivars with superior production performance and oil characteristics was continued. Management strategies (low and high input) and cultivar evaluations for biodiesel production from economic, agronomic, and engine performance standpoints will provide producers information on cultivar selection and management intensity that will encourage on-farm biodiesel production.


Review Publications
Faircloth, W.H., Ferrell, J.A., Main, C.L. 2008. Weed Control Systems for Peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) Grown as a Biofuel Feedstock. Weed Technology. v22:584-590.

Rowland, D., Beasley, J., Faircloth, W.H. 2009. Genotypic patterns of peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) phenology and the inability of current irrigation scheduling methods to modify them. Peanut Science. 36:133-137.

Lamb, M.C., Sorensen, R.B., Nuti, R.C., Butts, C.L., Faircloth, W.H., Eigenberg, D., Rowland, D. 2011. Agronomic and economic effect of irrigation rate in corn. Plant Management Network. 114. Available: http://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org.

Last Modified: 10/31/2014
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