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Improving Field Efficiency

Improving Field Efficiency

Tool examines machine operation costs relative to field size, shape.

Making field operations more efficient can help farmers maintain margins as crop prices soften. Understanding how odd-shaped fields impact machine costs per acre can help farmers fine-tune cash rent bids.

Making field operations more efficient can help farmers maintain margins as crop prices soften.

Kansas State University's spreadsheet, KSU-GPS guidance, examines machine operation costs relative to field size and shape. It also evaluates economics of guidance technology in the context of overlap, which impact machine usage, or overlapping of machine operations per land acre; crop input usage, or overlap of inputs applied per land acre, which affects cost of crop inputs and revenue associated with crop input overlap on headlands; and economics of sprayer boom or machine section control technology.

Typical uses would involve crop spraying, planting or tillage. Dollar-valued calculations generally are on a per "applied" acre basis. A 3,000-acre field sprayed three times in a year results in 9,000 applied acres for the year. Per-applied acre values are brought back to an implied investment per applied acre via simple amortization (no salvage value of technology is considered).

To derive how much you can invest in a given technology you will need to consider applied acres per year. But, if you use the same technology for different machine operations, you might also need to add results from multiple runs of the spreadsheet, where a separate machine operation is associated with a separate spreadsheet run.

You can download the spreadsheet using the link below.

Do you have a spreadsheet that's made a difference on your operation that you'd be willing to share with other readers? Drop us a line at with a description of the spreadsheet. We'll pay $75 if we feature your farmer-written noncommercial program as our Spreadsheet of the Month. 

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