# Calculating crop and ethanol yields and irrigation needs in 4 easy steps

##### Apr 22, 2010

Estimating crop yields based on available water in semi-arid regions has been made easier for several hundred farmers who are using a special calculator computer program developed by an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist.

Several hundred in the Central Great Plains have picked up a copy of the device, called the MultiCalculator CD, at field days and other outreach meetings, according to David Nielsen, the agronomist who developed it at the ARS Central Great Plains Research Station in Akron, Colo.

The MultiCalculator uses three simple Excel spreadsheets, downloadable at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=19206. In four steps, the yield calculator predicts non-irrigated —a vital factor in the semi-arid central plains.

First, farmers estimate how much available 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. For example, farmers on the predominant soil type in the area, silty loam, would multiply the depth of their wet soil by 2.2 to get the number of inches of soil water available for the crop at planting time.

In the next three steps, farmers choose a crop, a location, and guess the percentage of average precipitation they expect during the growing season.

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. 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 they will need for each gallon of ethanol produced from the corn they grow.

The calculations are derived from data from long-term ARS research at Akron, which showed a linear relationship between crop yields and seasonal crop use.

## Related Stories

#### Organic corn: Increasing rotation complexity increases yields

May 28, 2008

While demand for organic meat and milk is increasing by about 20% per year in the United States, almost all organic grain and forage to support these industries in the mid-Atlantic region is imported from other regions. To ...

Jul 01, 2008

Crop yield is highly dependent on soil plant-available water, the portion of soil water that can be taken up by plant roots. Quantitative determination of the maximum amount of plant-available water in soil using traditional ...

#### Squeezing More Crop Out of Each Drop of Water

Oct 09, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Studies in China and Colorado by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and cooperators have revealed some interesting tactics on how to irrigate with limited water, based on a crop’s ...

#### New Farming Wrinkle May Help Peanut Growers

Jan 15, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Using a combination of conservation tillage and deficit irrigation management in peanut production can promote conservation of water during the early growing season without hurting yields, ...

#### Aerial Imagery System Helps Save Water

Sep 15, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are developing a system that saves water by using aerial imagery and ground-based sensors to determine the irrigation needs of small sections ...

#### Tillage, rotation impacts peanut crops

Nov 10, 2008

The increasing popularity of reduced tillage on crops has not only been an important development in combating soil erosion, but it has also been associated with increasing organic material and producing high crop yields.

## Recommended for you

#### Diabetes drug found in freshwater is a potential cause of intersex fish

Apr 24, 2015

A medication commonly taken for Type II diabetes, which is being found in freshwater systems worldwide, has been shown to cause intersex in fish -male fish that produce eggs.

#### France increases Reunion shark fishing after surfer death

Apr 24, 2015

France said Friday it has approved increased fishing of tiger and bull sharks in the marine reserve of its African island territory of Reunion after a teenage surf star was killed.

#### York's anti-malarial plant given Chinese approval

Apr 24, 2015

A new hybrid plant used in anti-malarial drug production, developed by scientists at the University of York's Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP), is now registered as a new variety in China.

#### The appeal of being anti-GMO

Apr 24, 2015

A team of Belgian philosophers and plant biotechnologists have turned to cognitive science to explain why opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has become so widespread, despite positive contributions ...

#### Micro fingers for arranging single cells

Apr 24, 2015

Functional analysis of a cell, which is the fundamental unit of life, is important for gaining new insights into medical and pharmaceutical fields. For efficiently studying cell functions, it is essential ...

#### Discovery of a protein capable of regulating DNA repair during sperm formation

Apr 24, 2015

Researchers have discovered that a cascade activation of several molecules triggered by the ATM protein regulates DNA repair during the production of spermatocytes by meiosis, the cell division process which ...