Posts Tagged ‘Long term’

A manager´s dilemma – shortterm result, longterm considerations.

November 25, 2008


A fresh issue of the magazine Arvensis from a main advisory organization highlights the problem. Now prices for agricultural products are going down and the situation is very different from last year. And most costs are higher.

In Arvensis there are both shortterm and more longterm background for the farm manager.

Longterm and wide: rotations are important, choose robust crops and varieties, favour variation, controled fertilizer spreading…

On the other hand, some both direct advice and field reports have a more shortterm and narrow scope:


Use cheap urea! Urea is to some extent a step backwards. It is more unreliable and gives higher losses than AN and NPK. There is a general call for reduced N losses and higher N efficiency but a shift to urea goes in the other direction. Only in some cases, placement and other direct incorporation, urea gives no disadvantage.

A better strategy would be to save nitrogen by improved technology, for instance precision farming.


Plowing in Autumn or Spring? A nice study is presented showing that Autumn plowing gave better seedbed and higher yields than Spring plowing. The reason is the seedbed structure. It is so well presented that Spring plowing risks to be killed. Would that be a good development?

At least in combination with cover crops Spring plowing is favourable for organic matter and soil structure in the long run. It could be so that Autumn plowing gives shortterm advantages on soils with weak structure capacity, but Spring plowing combined with cover crops wins on more longterm basis.


Some decades ago experimental results and practical experience showed advantages for straw burning. But longterm considerations changed the picture.


Market economy and long term considerations.

September 30, 2008

Agriculture is dependent on and has influence on a longterm resource, the soil. Long term soil fertility considerations – how can that go together with short term market economy?


Long term considerations in general is discussed in one chapter in a recent book: Miljöekonomi för en hållbar utveckling. SNS Förlag. Author Håkan Pihl. (Title in English: Market economy for sustainable development).

Clearly, there are methods, in principle. Future incomes and costs are considered with a discount factor. But it is also evident that no farmer with success can claim 10% higher price for longterm considerations. He is totally dependent on the price on the market.

So it has to be concluded that the economic system governing the development of agriculture

does not function for long term issues. Those fall on the conscience of the farmer, but he is in a squeeze. Short sighted measures win.

However, there is one niche which should be better exploited: long term beneficial measures which pay off also in the short run if all factors are considered.

Agricultural research and advice have an important responsibility: to present data and information for such considerations.