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From Data To Information: The Value Of Sampling Vs. Sensing Soil Data


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  • Swinton, Scott M.
  • Jones, Kezelee Q.


A conceptual model is developed to measure the value of information from in-field soil sensing technologies as compared with grid and other soil sampling methods. Soil sensing offers greater spatial accuracy and the potential to apply inputs such as nitrogen fertilizer immediately, avoiding changes in nutrient status that occur with delays between soil sampling and fertilizer application. By contrast, soil sampling offers greater measurement accuracy, because it does not rely on proxy variables such as electrical conductivity to infer nutrient status. The average profitability and relative riskiness of soil sensing versus sampling depend upon 1) the trade-off between, on the one hand, the spatial and temporal accuracy of sensing and, on the other hand, the measurement accuracy of sampling, 2) the cost of data collection, and 3) input and product prices. Similar trade-offs govern the relative riskiness of sensing versus sampling.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics in its series Staff Papers with number 11674.

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Date of creation: 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ags:midasp:11674

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Keywords: Farm Management;


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  1. Bruce A. Babcock & Alicia L. Carriquiry & Hal S. Stern, 1996. "Evaluation of Soil Test Information in Agricultural Decision Making, An," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 96-wp147, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
  2. Meyer, Jack, 1987. "Two-moment Decision Models and Expected Utility Maximization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 421-30, June.
  3. Babcock, Bruce A. & Carriquiry, Alicia L. & Stern, Hal S., 1996. "Evaluation of Soil Test Information in Agricultural Decision-Making," Staff General Research Papers 1139, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  4. Auld, Douglas A L, 1972. "Imperfect Knowledge and the New Theory of Demand," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(6), pages 1287-94, Nov.-Dec..
  5. Feinerman, Eli & Bresler, Eshel & Dagan, Gideon, 1989. "Optimization of inputs in a spatially variable natural resource: Unconditional vs. conditional analysis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 140-154, September.
  6. Babcock, Bruce A. & Blackmer, Alfred M., 1992. "The Value Of Reducing Temporal Input Nonuniformities," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 17(02), December.
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Cited by:
  1. Antle, John M. & Capalbo, Susan M. & Mooney, Sian, 1999. "Optimal Spatial Scale For Evaluating Economic And Environmental Tradeoffs," 1999 Annual meeting, August 8-11, Nashville, TN 21660, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  2. Swinton, Scott M., 2002. "Capturing Household-Level Spatial Influence In Agricultural Management Using Random Effects Regression," Staff Papers 11516, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  3. Rejesus, Roderick M. & Nelson, Carl H., 2000. "Determinants Of The Value Of Site-Specific Information (Ssi) In Agriculture: A Unifying Theory To Analyze Its Relative Impacts," 2000 Annual meeting, July 30-August 2, Tampa, FL 21779, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  4. Walton, Jonathan C. & Roberts, Roland K. & Lambert, Dayton M. & Larson, James A. & English, Burton C. & Larkin, Sherry L. & Martin, Steven W. & Marra, Michele C. & Paxton, Kenneth W. & Reeves, Jeanne , 2008. "Adoption and Abandonment of Precision Soil Sampling in Cotton Production," 2008 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2008, Orlando, Florida 6215, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  5. Pautsch, Gregory R. & Babcock, Bruce A. & Breidt, F. Jay, 1999. "Optimal Information Acquisition Under A Geostatistical Model," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 24(02), December.


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