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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: An Integrated Farm System Model for Evaluating Alternatives in Crop, Dairy and Beef Production

Authors
item Rotz, Clarence
item Buckmaster, D. - PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV.
item Comerford, J. - PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV.

Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 20, 2002
Publication Date: July 20, 2002
Citation: ROTZ, C.A., BUCKMASTER, D.R., COMERFORD, J.W. AN INTEGRATED FARM SYSTEM MODEL FOR EVALUATING ALTERNATIVES IN CROP, DAIRY AND BEEF PRODUCTION. AMERICAN FORAGE AND GRASSLAND CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS. 2002.

Interpretive Summary: With tighter profit margins and increasing environmental requirements, strategic planning of farm production systems is becoming both more important and more difficult. A typical farm for animal production is relatively complex with a number of interrelated processes that include crop and pasture production, crop harvest, feed storage, animal feeding, manure handling, and grazing. The impact of farm management and technological changes are difficult to predict due to the interaction among these processes and the variable effects of weather. Evaluation of such changes on farms can be very difficult and costly, and several years of testing may be required to determine long-term effects. Computer simulation provides another option. By simulating various production systems over many years of weather, systems can be evaluated, compared and even optimized in a relatively short time with little cost or risk. A model was created that simulates all the major processes in crop, beef and dairy production. Simulation of cash crop hay, cow calf, stocker and seasonal dairy operations on a grass farm in southern Pennsylvania illustrate how the model can be used to compare the long-term economic and environmental performance of alternative production systems. The model provides scientists, educators, consultants and producers a useful research and teaching tool for evaluating farming systems.

Technical Abstract: Through an expansion of the Dairy Forage System Model (DAFOSYM), an Integrated Farm System Model was created to study the long-term performance, environmental impact, and economics of crop, beef and dairy production systems. Simulation of cash crop hay, cow calf, stocker and dairy production options on a 200-acre grass farm in south central Pennsylvania showed greater losses of nitrogen to the environment when the forage produced was fed to beef or dairy cattle. Farm profitability was lowest for the cow calf option and highest for dairy. Under the price assumptions of this analysis and assuming a good market for hay, the producer would be ahead selling the hay rather than using the forage to produce calves. Even the stocker farm did not show much potential for increasing the return over a hay system. The model provides a useful research and teaching tool for evaluating and comparing whole farm systems over multiple years of weather.

Last Modified: 7/30/2014
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