This document provides details of the
objectives, methodology, and results of activities related to the
collection and analysis of field data pertaining to Pilot Watersheds
over a three year period.
The overall objective of the field data
collection and analysis effort was to produce field based partial
budgets comparing costs and returns (net revenue) between conventional
and conservation tillage practices. Achieving this objective involved
activity in three areas: developing a data acquisition instrument to
facilitate collection of relevant economic data from co-operands;
collecting data from co-operands and entering it in a database that
would facilitate cleaning, storage, retrieval, and analysis of the data;
and carrying out a cost analysis of field operations performed and
Pocket sized booklets designed to assist
co-operands in recording data on field operations were developed and
produced by Conservation Management services (CMS) in 1988. The booklets
were based on data requirement specifications and design suggestions
provided by Deloitte & Touche. The booklets were first used in the fall
of 1988. Field technicians employed by CMS were responsible for
distributing the booklets, encouraging co-operands to complete them,
collecting completed booklets, doing a preliminary check for
completeness and accuracy, and forwarding the booklets to Deloitte &
Touche for data entry, cleaning, and analysis.
The database system used to deal with
Pilot Watersheds (PWS) data is a slightly modified version of the system
developed to deal with Tillage 2000 data. It consists of separate files
of information for farms, fields, crops, operations, custom work,
materials, and machinery linked together in a "relational" database.
Preparing partial budgets involved
costing every operation involved in the production of particular crops,
and aggregating those costs to arrive at the cost of all operations
involved in the production of a crop. The "Cost Report" program is a
complex one which extracts information from the database files, costs
each operation performed, and aggregates costs for each crop grown. The
output of the program is a report showing the acreage, yield, machine
costs, materials costs, fuel costs, and labour hours involved in the
production of individual crops. The financial modelling component takes
the output of the cost report, groups the budgets for like crops
together, and determines the means and variation of cost components for
crops in "test" (conservation tillage) watersheds in comparison to
"control" (conventional tillage) watersheds.
This document includes a review of
cropping and tillage practices as reported in the Pilot Watersheds Study
including cropping patterns, crop yields, level of adoption of
conservation tillage practices, reliability of reporting, fuel
consumption, labour requirements, and operation coverage, as well as
complete crop budgets.
The effort to collect economic
information in the Pilot Watersheds produced a large volume of data.
While it provides useful information on a number of aspects of the
economics of conservation tillage practices, it did not provide a
reliable basis for financial modelling at the field level. Perhaps the
most important shortcoming of the data is the high degree of variability
that it exhibits. Several sources of variability were identified, some
of which could have been better controlled through improved collection
procedures, but most of which could only be effectively removed by
modifying the experimental design. Important sources of variability
included: crop management practices, weather, level of adoption, and
lack of proper feedback in the data collection activity.
In spite of the problems encountered, the
economic data collected in the PWS provided critical input into the
field level economic analysis. The method of cost analysis embodied in
the costing program provides a prototype for economic analysis of field
data at an operation by operation level of detail. This prototype has
proven effective in dealing with data from both Tillage 2000 and the
Pilot Watersheds Study.