WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) — A U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist says he’s developed a computer program that estimates crop yields based on available water.
The program developed by Agricultural Research Service scientist David Nielsen is being used now by several hundred farmers in the central Great Plains.
Nielsen said his device, called the MultiCalculator CD, uses three simple Excel spreadsheets and, in four steps, the yield calculator predicts non-irrigated crop yields.
First, farmers estimate how much available soil water their fields have. Farmers can tab to a table on a different screen that helps them make this estimate, giving multiplication factors for various soil types.
In the next three steps, farmers choose a crop, a location and estimate the percentage of average precipitation they expect during the growing season.
The researcher said the computer instantly shows the yields they can expect. The yield calculator does this for 18 crops, including cereal grains, seed legumes, oilseeds and forages.
The water calculator also works in reverse — in five steps — beginning with the farmer choosing a crop, then the target yield, Nielsen said. It tells how much irrigation water will be needed to achieve the target yield. In addition, the calculator will also tell farmers how many gallons of irrigation water they will need for each gallon of ethanol produced from the corn they grow.
The programs can be downloaded at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=19206.
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