Date of Award

12-2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

Margarita Velandia

Committee Members

Roland Roberts, Dayton Lambert, James Larson, Steven Yen

Abstract

Precision farming entails production decisions that are made by obtaining data about soil and field traits. Information about yield and soil characteristics at different locations is collected and management strategies consistent with this information are designed. Information providers play a major role in helping farmers incorporate precision farming information into their decision-making processes. The main goal of this research is to add to the understanding of preferences of information sources in the context of precision farming. Data from cotton farmers in 11 Southeastern states were used to achieve this goal. Results from this study can be utilized by precision farming information providers to more effectively target their clientele.

This thesis examines two related research topics. The first essay focuses on the use of Extension as a source of precision farming information and the factors that determine preferences for this information source. The second essay examines farm business attributes, farmer characteristics and regional factors affecting cotton farmers‘ use of various precision farming information sources.

Farmers‘ preferences for precision farming education programming from Extension were described and analyzed using a basic statistical analysis. Results indicate that farmers tend to use various information sources simultaneously with Extension to make decisions about precision farming technology. An independent samples t-test showed that the means for age, education, income, farm size, and land tenure were statically significantly different between Extension users and non-users when other factors that may influence the use of precision farming information sources were not controlled.

A multivariate probit model was used in the second essay to determine the farm business, farmer, and regional characteristics affecting the use of different precision farming information sources. The multivariate approach accounts for correlation among the different information sources. Results suggest that the decision to use a precision farming information source may be correlated with the decision to use other information sources. When controlling for other factors that may influence the use of precision farming information sources age, education, farm size, and income were found to significantly affect the decision to use information sources.

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