Corn Yield Frontier and Technical Efficiency Measures in the Northern United States Corn Belt: Application of Stochastic Frontier Analysis and Data Envelopment Analysis
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Corn Yield Frontier and Technical Efficiency Measures in the Northern United States Corn Belt: Application of Stochastic Frontier Analysis and Data Envelopment Analysis (4.935Mb)
About 75% of human food in the 21st century consists of just 12 crops, though specific crops vary among nations. Modern technology has allowed development of innovative food and non-food uses for these commodities. For instance, corn (maize (Zea mays L.)) is produced for many purposes, including food, livestock feed, biofuels, fiber for clothing, etcetera. Scientists project the human population will reach 9.2 billion in next 20 years—an 18% increase from the 2020 population of 7.8 billion—resulting in increased demand for corn and other crops. Hence, farmers must increase total crop production to meet demand; however, local agricultural resource endowments such as climate, land and water availability, and soil attributes constrain production. Perhaps the quickest yield and efficiency improvements will result from farm management practices that tailor input applications to match accurate seasonal weather forecasts. Regional seasonal weather forecasts would enable farmers to optimize yields by reducing yield risk from extreme weather events, as well as from less extreme inter-annual weather variability. Improved productive efficiency is also critical to reducing environmental harms, e.g. contaminated runoff from excessive agricultural input use. The objective of this dissertation is to estimate the corn yield frontier and efficiency measures based on agricultural input management and weather. This research contributes to an enhanced understanding of how the corn yield frontier responds to inter-annual weather variations, and how it may shift with climate change. The first chapter summarizes three main topics—farm technology, climate change and weather variability, and methods for evaluating production efficiency. The second presents estimated corn yield frontiers and efficiency measures based on stochastic frontier and data envelopment analyses for nine North Dakota Agricultural Statistics Districts from 1994 to 2018. The third presents corn yield efficiency measures for five states: Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin from 1994 to 2018. The results reveal the major causes of inter-annual yield variation are variability of rainfall and temperature. Development of accurate growing-season weather forecasts is likely to result in high value-added for farmers and downstream agribusinesses. Federal, state, and private research funding in seasonal weather forecasting would probably be well invested.