No matter what type of crop you’re dealing with, growers everywhere all strive for the same thing – enhancing crop yield. Crop yield is widely considered to be the most important measure of a grower’s performance. Therefore, timely and accurate crop yield estimates are crucial for economic forecasting and risk assessment as it pertains to agricultural production. Understanding your crop yield, including ways you can improve it, has a direct impact on how profitable your land will be.
What is Crop Yield?
Crop yield is the measurement used to determine the amount of agricultural production harvested per unit of land area. In other words, crop yield refers to how much crop is actually produced, and determines how efficient land is used in order to produce these crops.
Crop yield is typically measured in bushels, whereas pricing is usually measured in tons.
How is Crop Yield Measured?
According to Investopedia, in order to estimate crop yield, producers usually count the amount of a given crop harvested in a representative sample area. The harvested crop is weighed, and the crop yield of the entire field is extrapolated from the sample. There are many different tools used to collect yield data. Examples include combine monitors, installable devices to digitally measure grain volume harvested by combines, weigh wagon scale tickets, and measuring bin space.
Crop yield is affected by many factors including climate, soil fertility, seed quality, and pests and diseases.
Effects on Crop Yield
Climate is one of the most important factors in determining crop yield. According to Omnia, climatic conditions extend beyond just “wet” and “dry”. Other factors to consider include humidity, temperature, wind, increased prevalence of pests during certain climate conditions, and weather patterns.
“Planting crops outside the specific climatic region that they are adapted to will negatively impact crop yield. Erratic weather patterns also pose an immense risk to crops, as they can cause extensive damage to crops and may create highly favourable conditions for certain pests and weeds to thrive.”
There are 18 nutrients that are essential for proper crop development, according to Omnia. For dryland farming soil is the main source of these nutrients, therefore soil fertility can impact crop production. Too little, or the complete absence, of any of these nutrients will negatively impact crop yield.
Pests and Diseases
Pests and diseases are another factor that can limit crop yield. There are many different types of pests and diseases, and they can cause damage to your crops in a variety of ways.
Ways to Enhance Crop Yield
As a grower, your efficiency is determined by how much you can produce within a given amount of land. You want to ensure that you are maximizing your production by taking advantage of agricultural practices that can help you increase yields. Here are a few.
Understand and Monitor Yield Potential
Understanding the yield limiters of local crops and conditions, as well as becoming educated about the specific crops being grown, will help manage expectations. Planning for realistic production goals and proactively managing potential yield limiters is crucial in increasing yield, and in return, profitability.
Once your crops are planted, monitoring for any signs of damage from pests or disease, as well as monitoring weather patterns, can help protect your targeted crop yield.
Ensure Genetic Variation
According to Nature, the agriculture industry has high demands to meet over the coming years in regards to food security.
“The key to addressing this challenge is a deeper understanding of genetic variation and the molecular, cellular and developmental pathways by which plants dynamically respond to and interact with their environment and pathogens, while maintaining growth, efficiency of nutrient use, and fitness. New crop varieties ideally will have genetic combinations that alleviate losses from the multiple environmental and pest constraints that are encountered during the crop lifecycle in a farmer’s field.”
Utilize Crop Protection Methods
Crop protection methods, such as integrated pest management practices, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides, can help lessen the impact of pests and diseases on crop yield.
Unfortunately, some pests will develop resistance to chemical methods, so it is important to adopt a multi-prong approach as outlined in ‘Managing Chemical Resistance with Crop Rotation’.
Introduce Mechanical Tools
Mechanical tools, like Redekop’s seed control unit and MAV straw chopper, provide an innovative solution to protect crop yield.
The seed control unit reduces the viable weed seed bank, resulting in reduced weed populations in the field it is used on. The MAV straw chopper finely cuts and spreads crop residue to prepare your land for seeding, allowing for even germination and emergence of seed and preventing plugging of crop debris in seeding and harvesting equipment.
When dealing with crop yield, it’s best to approach it with as many tools in your arsenal as possible. The methods above will help you lessen the impact of any challenges you encounter, while preparing you to protect yield and profits.