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Crop management based on field observations: Case studies in sugarcane and coffee


  • Cock, James
  • Oberthür, Thomas
  • Isaacs, Camilo
  • Läderach, Peter Roman
  • Palma, Alberto
  • Carbonell, Javier
  • Victoria, Jorge
  • Watts, Geoff
  • Amaya, Alvaro
  • Collet, Laure
  • Lema, Germán
  • Anderson, Einar


For millennia farmers have continually improved their crop management and production practices through their observations and experience. More recently modern science and research methods based on controlled experiments became the most visible instrument of technological change in agriculture, nevertheless farmers continued to develop and implement new technologies based on their own observations made under commercial conditions. Modern information technology and social organization of producers make it possible to use operational research, which is based on the observation and analysis of operations so as to improve them, to manage crops better. The article describes two cases, coffee and sugarcane, in which observation of the results obtained by farmers, with the natural variation in the environment and the distinct management practices they apply can be used to determine site specific crop management practices. The basis of the methodology is to (a) obtain data from a series of cropping events that characterizes the conditions under which each crop is grown, how it is managed and how it performs under commercial conditions (data capture), (b) to manage and analyze the data in centralized databases (data management and analysis) and (c) make the information derived from the data analysis available to growers so that they can use it to make better informed decisions (interpretation). All aspects of the methodology depend on the social organization of the growers and the supply chain of which they form a part, and hence social organization is an integral part of the methodology.

Suggested Citation

  • Cock, James & Oberthür, Thomas & Isaacs, Camilo & Läderach, Peter Roman & Palma, Alberto & Carbonell, Javier & Victoria, Jorge & Watts, Geoff & Amaya, Alvaro & Collet, Laure & Lema, Germán & Anderson,, 2011. "Crop management based on field observations: Case studies in sugarcane and coffee," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 104(9), pages 755-769.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:104:y:2011:i:9:p:755-769 DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2011.07.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andy Hall, 2005. "Capacity development for agricultural biotechnology in developing countries: an innovation systems view of what it is and how to develop it," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(5), pages 611-630.
    2. Jiménez, Daniel & Cock, James & Jarvis, Andy & Garcia, James & Satizábal, Héctor F. & Damme, Patrick Van & Pérez-Uribe, Andrés & Barreto-Sanz, Miguel A., 2011. "Interpretation of commercial production information: A case study of lulo (Solanum quitoense), an under-researched Andean fruit," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 104(3), pages 258-270, March.
    3. Marsh, Sally P. & Pannell, David J., 2000. "Agricultural extension policy in Australia: the good, the bad, and the misguided," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 44(4), December.
    4. Oberthür, Thomas & Läderach, Peter & Posada, Huver & Fisher, Myles J. & Samper, Luis F. & Illera, Julia & Collet, Laure & Moreno, Edgar & Alarcón, Rodrigo & Villegas, Andres & Usma, Herman & Perez, Ca, 2011. "Regional relationships between inherent coffee quality and growing environment for denomination of origin labels in Nariño and Cauca, Colombia," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 783-794.
    5. Jules Pretty, 1991. "Farmers' extension practice and technology adaptation: Agricultural revolution in 17–19th century Britain," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 8(1), pages 132-148, December.
    6. Hall, Andy & Dijkman, Jeroen, 2006. "Capacity development for agricultural biotechnology in developing countries: Concepts, contexts, case studies and operational challenges of a systems perspective," MERIT Working Papers 003, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
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    Cited by:

    1. Cock, J. & Kam, S.P. & Cook, S. & Donough, C. & Lim, Y.L. & Jines-Leon, A. & Lim, C.H. & Primananda, S. & Yen, B.T. & Mohanaraj, S.N. & Samosir, Y.M.S. & Oberthür, T., 2016. "Learning from commercial crop performance: Oil palm yield response to management under well-defined growing conditions," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 99-111.


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