Publications

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  • Precision Agriculture Technologies and Factors Affecting Their Adoption

    Amber Waves, December 05, 2016

    Three common precision agricultural information technologies are global positioning system (GPS) guidance systems, GPS yield and soil monitors/maps, and variable-rate input application technologies (VRT). Research shows these technologies had similar positive, but small, impacts on corn profits of between 1 and 3 percent in 2010.

  • Farm Profits and Adoption of Precision Agriculture

    ERR-217, October 18, 2016

    ERS examines recent trends in adoption of precision agriculture technologies, the production practices and farm characteristics associated with adoption, and whether adoption is associated with greater profitability on U.S. corn farms.

  • Cost Savings From Precision Agriculture Technologies on U.S. Corn Farms

    Amber Waves, May 02, 2016

    Information-based technologies are growing in popularity with farmers because their use can lead to closer monitoring of farm production management decisions and possible cost savings. According to USDA’s Agricultural Resource Management Survey, four technologies are the most commonly used: yield mapping, soil mapping, auto-guidance machinery steering, and variable-rate technologies.

  • India’s Agricultural Growth Propellers

    Amber Waves, April 04, 2016

    ERS research on India’s agricultural performance since 1980 suggests that increases in productivity have spread from the northern grain belt, led by accelerated growth in production of horticulture and animal products. Several policies are propelling India’s agricultural productivity, namely investments in public and private agricultural research, irrigation infrastructure, and higher levels of public education.

  • Propellers of Agricultural Productivity in India

    ERR-203, December 10, 2015

    Exerting the greatest effect on India's agricultural productivity growth since 1980 were investments in public and private agricultural research and in irrigation infrastructure.

  • U.S. Agricultural Productivity Growth: The Past, Challenges, and the Future

    Amber Waves, September 08, 2015

    Since 1948, U.S. agricultural productivity has more than doubled, enabling farmers to feed more people with less land and labor. Output growth is attributed to the growth in total inputs used and in technology advancement, or total factor productivity (TFP). Agricultural output growth today is more dependent on TFP growth than in the past.

  • Agricultural Productivity Growth in the United States: Measurement, Trends, and Drivers

    ERR-189, July 27, 2015

    With little growth in aggregate input use over the last six decades, the extraordinary performance of the U.S. farm sector was driven mainly by productivity growth, at an average annual rate of 1.42 percent. Is the growth sustainable?

  • The Economics of Glyphosate Resistance Management in Corn and Soybean Production

    ERR-184, April 30, 2015

    Corn and soybean growers have an economic incentive to encourage neighbors to manage (rather than ignore) weed resistance to the herbicide glyphosate.

  • Rising Concentration in Agricultural Input Industries Influences New Farm Technologies

    Amber Waves, December 03, 2012

    The largest agricultural input firms are responsible for a large and growing share of global agricultural research and development (R&D). See the December issue of ERS’s Amber Waves magazine.

  • Private Industry Investing Heavily, and Globally, in Research To Improve Agricultural Productivity

    Amber Waves, June 05, 2012

    Private sector firms becoming leaders in developing new innovations in agriculture.

  • Research Investments and Market Structure in the Food Processing, Agricultural Input, and Biofuel Industries Worldwide

    ERR-130, December 30, 2011

    ERS quantifies investment trends by for-profit companies in food manufacturing, biofuels, and agricultural input R&D and explores how the trends are affected by changes in industry structure.

  • Research Investments and Market Structure in the Food Processing, Agricultural Input, and Biofuel Industries Worldwide: Executive Summary

    EIB-90, December 30, 2011

    Meeting growing global demand for food, fiber, and biofuel requires robust investment in agricultural research and development (R&D) from both public and private sectors. This report highlights the major findings of a study examining global R&D spending by private industry in seven agricultural input sectors, food manufacturing, and biofuel and describes the changing structure of these industries. For the full report, see Research Investments and Market Structure in the Food Processing, Agricultural Input, and Biofuel Industries Worldwide, ERR-130. In 2007 (the latest year for which comprehensive estimates are available), the private sector spent $19.7 billion on food and agricultural research (56 percent in food manufacturing and 44 percent in agricultural input sectors) and accounted for about half of total public and private spending on food and agricultural R&D in high-income countries. In R&D related to biofuel, annual private-sector investments are estimated to have reached $1.47 billion worldwide by 2009. Incentives to invest in R&D are influenced by market structure and other factors. Agricultural input industries have undergone significant structural change over the past two decades, with industry concentration on the rise. A relatively small number of large, multinational firms with global R&D and marketing networks account for most R&D in each input industry. Rising market concentration has not generally been associated with increased R&D investment as a percentage of industry sales.

  • The Information Age and Adoption of Precision Agriculture

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2011

    Findings suggest that low adoption rates of precision technologies by farmers may be due to uncertainty about economic returns to large initial investments, the complexity of the technologies, and the need to make integrated use of several precision technologies to obtain cost savings.

  • On the Doorstep of the Information Age: Recent Adoption of Precision Agriculture

    EIB-80, August 24, 2011

    The adoption of precision agriculture, which encompasses a suite of farm-level information technologies, can improve the efficiency of input use and reduce environmental harm from the overapplication of inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. Still, the adoption of precision agricultural technologies and practices has been less rapid than envisioned a decade ago. Using Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) data collected over the past 10 years, this report examines trends in the adoption of four key information technologies-yield monitors, variable-rate application technologies, guidance systems, and GPS maps-in the production of major field crops. While yield monitoring is now used on over 40 percent of U.S. grain crop acres, very few producers have adopted GPS maps or variable-rate input application technologies.

  • U.S. Public Agricultural Research: Changes in Funding Sources and Shifts in Emphasis, 1980-2005

    EIB-45, March 31, 2009

    Over the years, proposals have recommended shifting the focus of public agricultural research from applied to basic research, and giving higher priority to peer-reviewed, competitively funded grants. The public agricultural research system in the United States is a Federal-State partnership, with most research conducted at State institutions. In recent years, State funds have declined, USDA funds have remained fairly steady (with changes in the composition of funding), but funding from other Federal agencies and the private sector has increased. Efforts to increase competitively awarded funds for research have fluctuated over time, as have special grants (earmarks). Along with shifts in funding sources, the proportion of basic research being undertaken within the public agricultural research system has declined. This report focuses on the way public agricultural research is funded in the United States and how changes in funding sources over the last 25 years reflect changes in the type of research pursued.

  • The Evolving Public Agricultural Research Portfolio

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2009

    The Federal-State partnership that constitutes public research and development contributes to agricultural productivity through the introduction of new technologies that improve efficiency or enhance the quality of products. Over the past few decades, advances in the biological sciences, as well as legislation that strengthened intellectual property protection, have provided new tools for agricultural research and enhanced private incentives for technology development.

  • Sources of Public Agricultural R&D Changing

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2007

    Explains the sources of funding for research and development at USDA, land grant universities and other state institutions.

  • The Value of Plant Disease Early-Warning Systems: A Case Study of USDA's Soybean Rust Coordinated Framework

    ERR-18, April 03, 2006

    ERS examines and evaluates, as a case study, USDA's coordinated framework for soybean rust surveillance, reporting, prediction, and management.

  • Public Information Creates Value

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2006

    Using information, individuals can make sound decisions that allow them to adjust their actions to the situation at-hand. Farmers facing a potential pest infection, such as soybean rust, can use publicly provided information about the likelihood of infection to make better decisions about the amount and timing of fungicide applications.

  • Ag Biotech Patents on the Move

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2005

    Although small agbiotech companies and seed companies originated 37 percent of a sample of patents issued between 1976 and 2000, large chemical, multinational, and European companies owned 99 percent of the total by 2002. Mergers and acquisitions will probably continue to affect intellectual property ownership and industry structure.