Agriculture and Food Systems - Theses

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    A systems analysis approach to drought reserves in the Hamilton region
    Thatcher, L. P (1944-) ( 1971)
    Following a discussion of drought strategies available to the grazier, one particular strategy, the holding of drought fodder reserves, is examined in detail. The study estimates the least-cost fodder reserves for a range of stocking rate-pasture production regimes in the Hamilton region. The amount of hay feeding required on any stocking-pasture regime is determined from a simulation model of the grazing complex. In this model, three levels of pasture production are stocked at rates ranging from one to ten wethers per acre. The pasture production assumed ranges from "excellent" (i.e. equivalent to the Hamilton Research Station pastures which produce about 10,000 lb. dry matter per annum) to "poor" (35% less). The climatic inputs into the grazing model are the date of Autumn break, for which a formula is derived, and the June to October rainfall. The pasture sub-model is specified and used to derive the pasture which is "grown" in the grazing model. The sheep aspects of the model are reviewed in detail to derive the relationships which are used in the next set of four sub-models in which animal intake is simulated and liveweight changes determined. This set of four sub-models provides for the four situations of animal intake which may be met. These are: The intake of green pasture alone (i.e. all pasture grown after the Autumn Break); the intake of hay alone; the intake of hay and green pasture together; the intake of hay and dry pasture (pasture remaining when the Autumn Break occurs and dry pasture alone which are handled in the same sub-model) The grazing model was validated for the years 1965-67 using data from the Pastoral Research Station, Hamilton, and showed good agreement for all three years simulated, one of which featured a severe drought. Drought feeding requirements (hay) are determined for each of the years 1879 to 1967 and for the ten stocking rate-pasture production regimes, using specific hay feeding rules. These rules, which aim at sheep survival, do not attempt to specify optimum feeding rates per sheep, and any change in them could significantly alter the drought requirements for any of the regimes studied. Furthermore, the estimates are Lased on the assumption that all sheep are fed through the drought. A pre-drought strategy which permitted the sale of certain classes of sheep at some stage during drought would entail lower feed requirements and might have a lower expected cost, especially at high acquisition costs for feed and low replacement costs for sheep. An inventory analysis is then undertaken, based on a 12 month planning period, which utilises the hay feeding probabilities generated in the grazing model, and provides estimates of the least-cost hay reserve. In contrast to previous studies, the price of hay is related to drought length in calculating the penalty cost of inadequate reserves. The effects of varying several parameters of the inventory model are then examined. The parameters varied are hay costs ($4, $10 and $16 per ton), interest rates (7%, 20% and 50%), and salvage values, and these vary in association with the parameters varied in the grazing model (stocking rate, pasture production and the area closed for hay). At the intermediate values for pasture production and hay cost and a 7 per cent per annum interest rate, the minimum-cost reserve rises sharply, from 2 bales per acre at 2 wethers per acre, to 4.5 bales per acre at 3 wethers per acre, 8 bales per acre at 4 wethers per acre, and 15 bales per acre at 5 wethers per acre. The minimum-cost reserve was found to be relatively insensitive to changes in acquisition costs, except at low stocking rates, where a change in reserve of one or two half-bales per sheep was common as acquisition cost varied over the three levels. The effect of interest rates was also examined for the average pasture regime. On the lowest level of hay acquisition cost, ($4 per ton) increasing the rate of interest from 7 to 50 per cent caused reductions of only one half-bale per sheep. However, at high acqusition cost ($16 per ton) raising the interest rate to 20 per cent resulted in a considerable reduction in the minimum-cost reserve, especially on the lower stocking rates, and raising the interest rate to 50 per cent made holding fodder reserves uneconomic for any stocking rate. One measure of the risk in holding various levels of fodder reserve is the standard deviation of the total expected cost. As expected, it was found that this declines as the reserve is expanded to the maximum ever required. However, only a small reduction in standard deviation results from expanding the reserve beyond the minimum-cost level. Finally, estimates were made of the income-maximising stocking rate for each level of pasture production and hay cost, with the wool price at 30, 40 and 50 cents per lb.. At the intermediate values for pasture production (8,000 lb. D.M.) and hay cost ($10 per ton), and with wool at 30 cents per lb. net, the income-maximising stocking rate was 3 wethers per acre. Each increase of 10 cents per lb. in the wool price was generally associated with an increase of one or two wethers per acre in the income-maximising stocking rate. An increase of 2,000 lb. D.M. (from "average" to "excellent") in average annual pasture production was generally associated with an increase of one wether per acre in the income-maximising stocking rate. A reduction of 1,500 lb. from "average" to "poor" pasture. production reduced the income-maximising stocking rate by about one wether per acre. Increasing the hay cost from $4 to $10 per ton reduced the profit-maximising stocking rate by one wether per acre for all combinations of pasture production and wool price examined. However, a further increase in acquisition cost from $10 to $16 per ton only caused a further reduction in the income-maximising stocking rate at the poor level of pasture production: with average pasture production there was little change and with excellent production there was no change in the income-maximising stocking rate.
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    Price risk management in the Australian cotton industry
    Ada, Timothy James ( 2004)
    Over 95 per cent of Australian cotton producers have attempted to manage price risk at some time, through a broad range of management strategies. The findings of this study suggest that the cotton industry has to date, embraced the principals of price risk management more so than other agricultural commodity industries in Australia. Nearly 60 per cent of Australian cotton producers stated that price risk management had a positive effect on their farm business. Findings from the study suggest that price risk management is only one of a suite of business management tools, but when implemented strategically, it can lead to positive outcomes in terms of business planning and ultimately through increased profitability. A lack of understanding of price risk management and, more specifically, recent currency exchange losses and high production risks were the key contributing factors for the 21 per cent of producers who stated that price risk management had a negative impact on their business. Approximately 10 per cent of cotton producers operated dryland production systems. These producers often incurred a broader range of production risks, and the resulting production uncertainty inhibited effective use of some price risk management strategies. One in four cotton producers had an agriculture-related tertiary qualification, yet few (around five per cent) had undertaken any form of specialist price risk management training. While some cotton producers are competent managers of price risk, the primary conclusion from the study is that much of the current uptake and effectiveness of price risk management in the Australian cotton industry generally, is somewhat limited by a lack of producer experience, confidence and understanding of price risk management principles and processes.
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    The economics of irrigated dairyfarming in the Central Gippsland irrigation district
    Hickey, Geoffrey James ( 1964)
    It is the purpose of this thesis to investigate the level of managerial efficiency obtaining on a group of dairy farms situated in the Nambrok-Denison area of the Central Gippsland Irrigation District, and to enquire into the possible avenues of increasing the profitability of such undertakings under existing conditions. Emphasis is restricted to analysis at the individual farm level, although the results could be adapted to shed some light on a number of important questions of national policy. Farm management is concerned with the proper combination and operation of production factors, and the choice of crop and livestock enterprises to bring about a maximum and continuous return to the most elementary operation units of farming (Yang 1958, p.4). A broader definition encompasses two further functions, viz. acquisition of factors of production, and adaptation of the farm plan to changing conditions (Castle and Becker 1962, p.253). The present investigation is restricted to an examination of the existing resource allocation efficiency. Thus it represents only a partial analysis of the farm management problem, but one which focuses attention on the more feasible possibilities of increasing farming efficiency in the short run; namely a more efficient reallocation of the resources presently employed on the farm, and the more profitable avenues of investment of additional funds. Farm management research employs the two major processes common to scientific research in general - deduction and induction (Heady 1952., p.14) - and the following pages illustrate this procedure. First, the problem is explicitely stated - how efficiently are the individual farms being managed given relevant restrictions? Second, the theoretically optimum model is defined - in terms of the criteria for efficient resource allocation - and the empirical procedures to be employed in investigating departure from this optimum, lug. residual imputation and regression techniques, are described. The required empirical data is then collected and analysed using the statistical procedures appropriate to the above techniques. Finally, the results of the empirical investigation are examined in the light of the defined criteria for efficient resource use, and on the basis of this comparison between actual and theoretically optimum conditions, suggestions are made regarding the possibilities of more closely approximating the latter.
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