Know The Impact Of Your Decisions

Use the Peanut Risk Management Tool to see how various production practices affect pest response. Record management choices and outcomes in the Field Log.

• By Amanda Huber •

peanut risk management tool
The idea behind the Peanut Risk Tool was to make it easier to see the interrelationships among practices, including the cost of those decisions.

A practical, easy-to-use management tool for Virginia-type peanut growers is available through the North Carolina State University Extension peanut website under the menu selection “Peanut Risk Tool and Field Log.” Download the Microsoft Excel-based tool to use in determining the risk of pests based on production decisions. It can also be used to record practices and inputs associated with production and pest management to chronicle field histories.

“The idea behind the Peanut Risk Tool was to make it easier to see the interrelationships among the practices we use to grow peanuts and how all types of pests respond, including weeds, arthropods, diseases and nematodes,” says David Jordan, North Carolina State University Extension peanut specialist.

The goal was to take all the risk information that they had learned and put it into one tool where farmers could look at different production scenarios and see what their total risk was based on those decisions, he says.

Bringing An Idea To Fruition

NCSU Extension Entomologist Rick Brandenburg says “The Peanut Risk Tool is useful to help understand risk in production, to help make the best decisions for your farm situation before the first seed goes in the soil and to make wise decisions as the season progresses.”

The concept of predicting risk in North Carolina peanut production was developed by the late Jack Bailey, NCSU plant pathologist. “Jack wanted to make a system that took not only our research findings but also our experiences over the decades and put it into a program that helped us make wise management decision,” Brandenburg says.

“For a number of years, David Jordan has led an effort to continue Jack’s dream and put it into practice by providing guidelines for county Extension field faculty and a risk index calculator for peanut growers to reduce risk.”

An Economic Component

Although the tool is beneficial prior to planting, it can also be used as the season progresses.

“It can help producers understand how everything they do will impact something else,” Brandenburg says. “Cultivar selection, tillage practices, planting date, plant populations and row spacing, and on down the list, will all influence the problems later in the season. You can’t make potential problems disappear, but you can stack the deck in your favor to reduce those issues that are most troublesome and stressful on your farm.”

He says researchers make every attempt to develop cost-effective approaches to management and look at the economics of risk reduction. “Sometimes that comes at a premium price and limits our ability to produce the crop in a cost-effective manner.

“The best decisions are the result of using the best sources of information you can, mixed with your own personal experiences, and making those decisions in a timely manner.”

How It Works

Jordan says the tool, once downloaded, contains drop-down menus to select inputs.

peanut risk management tool
The tool enables growers and consultant to determine pest risk based on production plans.

“Put in your field history. Choose your rotation and inputs. Depending on your options, it’s going to show how much risk you are taking for the selected pests. It can be expanded to include more pests and categories of pests than what is currently in the tool. It is designed to be flexible and easily modified.”

Risk assessments are based on the stoplight’s red, yellow and green colors.

“If you see a lot of green, then it means those scenarios for the selected inputs are creating less risk for that pest. But if you see more red, you can go back and look at what you are doing to create that risk and what you might do differently to reduce it.

“We’ve tied all of these practices back to a cost,” Jordan says. “So adjusting risks may show an increase or decrease in costs. That’s part of the tool.”

Eliminating all of the uncertainties in farming isn’t possible. Using information gained from decades of peanut research can help producers make decisions that reduce some of the risk in their crop. Use the Field Log to record those decisions and yields achieved.

Find the tool at[divider]

A Field Log For Record Keeping

peanut risk management tool
The Field Log can be used to keep up with all management decisions and outcomes each year.

Based on grower surveys, Extension peanut specialist David Jordan found that nearly two-thirds of producers keep most of their records on paper. A spreadsheet was used by 18% of growers, and 23% relied on documentation associated with the Worker Protection Standards. Another 8% of growers depended on their own memory, with 4% having a crop consultant keep their field records. Some producers use multiple ways of keeping up with the information.

For those who want to transition away from a system of keeping up with papers or relying on memory, the Field Log was included as a part of the Peanut Risk Management Tool.

“As I have transitioned away from paper to electronic, and I’m not all the way there yet, I find it much easier and efficient to pull things together to make a decision when the information is all in one place,” Jordan says. “The idea is to start populating this log with all the information you have for your peanuts.

“The value is you put all this information in and you look at the outcome for that year. Are yields what you expected? If not, and if you don’t already intuitively know, you can look at inputs and decisions to help figure out what affected the yield.”

Jordan says he hopes producers will give the new Field Log and Peanut Risk Management Tool a try. “It is flexible, and you can record what you think is most important. It is not tied to something on the web where others can gain access.

“If you don’t have a place where you are already recording this information, then it’s a good place to do that.”

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