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Evaluation of the profitability of a new precision fungicide application system for strawberry production

Ekaterina Vorotnikova, Tatiana Borisova () and John J. VanSickle

Agricultural Systems, 2014, vol. 130, issue C, 77-88

Abstract: This study evaluates farm-level risk and profitability of a new web-based expert system developed for precision fungicide management for strawberry production in a humid and warm climate. The Strawberry Advisory System (SAS) examined in this study allows for a temporally-variable, weather-dependent fungicide application to manage anthracnose and Botrytis fruit rot diseases in strawberry production in the southern United States (U.S.) and specifically Florida. Using results from six-year production trials combined with historical state-level data, we simulate the distribution of the ten-year net present value (NPV) of profits for SAS-based and traditional Calendar-based strawberry fungicide management. The joint probability distributions of yields and sale prices driven by weather variability are modeled with Monte Carlo stochastic simulation. The new expert system is estimated to significantly reduce crop losses (23.7% on average for anthracnose and 20% for Botrytis) and decrease fungicide use (47% on average for anthracnose and 49% for Botrytis), while increasing profit 41.6% on average in the case of anthracnose and 16.8% for Botrytis. Although the use of the new expert system increases the variability of yield and profit, SAS significantly increases both yield and profit compared to those of Calendar-based method. Based on the risk-adjusted profitability analysis, SAS is a preferred method of fungicide application. Assuming a representative Florida strawberry farm of 10.5 hectares (26 acres), the value of SAS is estimated on average to be $1.76 million for anthracnose and $0.89 million for Botrytis, over a ten-year horizon of use. SAS fungi management is a viable and practical decision-support system for fungicide application that can increase profit, and potentially reduce the environmental footprint from strawberry production. It can add significant economic value to the strawberry producer in the United States and in other countries.

Keywords: Expert system; Disease management; Stochastic valuation; Farm level production; Precision agriculture (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2014.06.006

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