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Decision-Aid Tools

Helping you make better informed decisions.

In the context of Precision Agricultural technologies, Automatic Section Control (ASC) Technology for planters provides control over planting operations such that sections or rows on the planter are turned off in areas of the field that had been previously planted or areas that have been marked not to plant. Potential benefits of this technology are lower seed costs due to reduction in double-planted acres, and improved yield potential in these double-planted areas at harvest time. Reduced cost (i.e., seed savings) and additional revenue (i.e., improved yield) will vary based on field shape and size.

The Automatic Section Control for Planters Cost Calculator (ASCCC) is an interactive computerized decision aid that is designed to help you evaluate potential benefits of this technology (i.e., lower seed, and improved yield potential) and estimate the number of years it would take an investment in ASC for planters to return its original cost through the annual net cash revenue it generates (i.e. savings).

A marginal approach that utilizes partial budgeting techniques[1] is use to ascertain the marginal change in costs and revenues associated with double planting. This approach enabled us to determine the potential profit reduction (per acre) due to double planting and therefore the potential saving associated with the adoption of ASC technology for planters.

ASCCC allows you to develop a custom analysis of the purchase decision based on your farm situation. ASCCC includes default input costs, crop prices, and yields based on UT budgets but they can be change to better reflect your farm operation situation.

Note Regarding Security Settings: The decision-aid file contains macros (examples: buttons for printing and moving from the intro page to the calculator) which are required for the calculator to function properly. Security settings for Microsoft Office or Excel may give you warnings when you open the file regarding the safety of enabling the macros. This will especially be true if your security settings are set to high or very high. The macros in the file must be enabled for the calculator to function properly.

ASCCC Field Diagrams

[1] Kay, R. D. and W.M. Edwards. 1999. Farm Management, Fourth Edition, McGraw-Hill, Boston, MA.

Download ASCCC

For additional information, contact Margarita Velandia, mvelandia@tennessee.edu

The buy/sell margin (the difference between a feeder calf or yearling purchase price and a sale price at some later date) is a critical component in the profitability of beef cattle backgrounding and finishing systems. In fact, the margin can make or break a producer in a single year.

The Excel-based Buy Sell Margins Calculator allows you to look at historical buy/sell margins for buy-sell periods that you select for steers, heifers, Holstein steers (Tennessee only), and finished cattle (5 Market Area).

These historical buy/sell margins can give you some feel for the price risk exposure on purchased cattle as well as calves from a cow/calf program. The absolute buy/sell margins in dollars per hundredweight are one measure of price risk.

The BSM Calculator will calculate the minimum (worst), average, and maximum (best) buy/sell margins for the past 10 years based on your selections of both buying and selling months, state, sex, weight ranges, and grades.

Note Regarding Security Settings: The decision-aid file contains macros (examples: buttons for printing and moving from the intro page to the calculator) which are required for the calculator to function properly. Security settings for Microsoft Office or Excel may give you warnings when you open the file regarding the safety of enabling the macros. This will especially be true if your security settings are set to high or very high. The macros in the file must be enabled for the calculator to function properly.

Download Buy Sell Margins Calculator

Updated January 2021

For additional information, contact Becky Bowling, bowling10@utk.edu

The CFAP Calculator is based on the CFAP program rates that were released May 19, 2020. If there are adjustments after this date, this calculator will be adjusted. This tool is intended to be a guide for producers to use in order to estimate a payment amount, it is not an absolute estimate. This spreadsheet is for informational and educational purposed only. Final payments are at the discretion of USDA.

Note Regarding Security Settings: The decision-aid file contains macros (examples: buttons for printing and moving from the intro page to the calculator) which are required for the calculator to function properly. Security settings for Microsoft Office or Excel may give you warnings when you open the file regarding the safety of enabling the macros. This will especially be true if your security settings are set to high or very high. The macros in the file must be enabled for the calculator to function properly.

Download CFAP Calculator

May 27, 2020

For additional information, contact Charley Martinez, cmart113@utk.edu

The Corn Nitrogen Rate Calculator is an interactive computerized decision aid designed to help growers obtain a profit-maximizing nitrogen rate recommendation. The calculator reports the profit-maximizing nitrogen rate, and allows users to adjust corn and nitrogen prices with easy point and click operation. Data used in developing the calculator are from corn nitrogen response trials conducted in West and Middle Tennessee. The calculator can currently be used to predict a profitable nitrogen rate for productive nonirrigated and irrigated fields. Response functions for less productive soils and for corn planted after specific rotational crops will be included as we accumulate the data.

IMPORTANT: You must choose the “Save” option when downloading the Excel file. (If you choose the “Open” option, you will be prompted to save the file before viewing the results).

Note Regarding Security Settings: The decision-aid file contains macros (examples: buttons for printing and moving from the intro page to the calculator) which are required for the calculator to function properly. Security settings for Microsoft Office or Excel may give you warnings when you open the file regarding the safety of enabling the macros. This will especially be true if your security settings are set to high or very high. The macros in the file must be enabled for the calculator to function properly.

This software was developed by personnel from the Agricultural and Resource Economics Production Economics Analysis Group (PEAG) and the West Tennessee Research and Education Center.

Download Corn Nitrogen Rate Calculator

For additional information, contact Angela Thompson McClure, athompson@tennessee.edu

The Cotton Precision Agriculture Investment Decision Aid (CPAIDA) is an interactive computerized decision aid that is designed to help you evaluate the yield gains and input savings required to pay for investment in precision farming equipment. Using partial budgeting and break-even analysis, CPAIDA allows you to develop a custom analysis of the purchase decision based on your farm situation. CPAIDA features

  • Easy point and click operation
  • Includes default input costs to serve as a starting point for the user
  • Sensitivity analysis from changing cotton and input prices

Users are encouraged to obtain current price quotes for the equipment they select rather than use default values in order to more accurately estimate equipment costs. The information provided by CPAIDA is purely educational. No responsibility is assumed for problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. Reference to commercial products within CPAIDA does not constitute an endorsement by The University of Tennessee or Cotton Incorporated, nor does it imply discrimination against other similar products.

This software was developed by the Production Economics Analysis Group

Cotton Precision Agriculture - Investment Decision Aid

Download CPAIDA

Release version 1.2 (5/21/2010)

For additional information, contact James Larson or Burton English

Cotton Incorporated

Funding provided by Cotton Incorporated

The Cotton Yield Monitor Investment Decision Aid (CYMIDA) is an interactive computerized decision aid that is designed to help you evaluate the yield gains and input savings required to pay for investment in a cotton yield monitoring system. Using partial budgeting and break-even analysis, CYMIDA allows you to develop a custom analysis of the purchase decision based on your farm situation. CYMDIA features

  • Printable user’s guide
  • Easy point and click operation
  • Context sensitive help
  • Includes default input costs to serve as a starting point for the user
  • Sensitivity analysis from changing cotton and input prices

This software was developed by the Production Economics Analysis Group

Cotton Yield Monitor - Investment Decision Aid

Download CYMIDA

CYMIDA Brochure

CYMIDA User’s Guide

For additional information, contact James Larson or Burton English

Cotton Incorporated

Funding provided by Cotton Incorporated

The Beef Cow Herd Efficiency Calculator was developed to assist Tennessee cow-calf producers in improving cow herd genetics. The calculator will assist producers in identifying the higher-performing and lower-performing cows in the herd. It can also serve as a tool for selecting replacement heifers.

Note Regarding Security Settings: The decision-aid file contains macros (examples: buttons for printing and moving from the intro page to the calculator) which are required for the calculator to function properly. Security settings for Microsoft Office or Excel may give you warnings when you open the file regarding the safety of enabling the macros. This will especially be true if your security settings are set to high or very high. The macros in the file must be enabled for the calculator to function properly.

Download Beef Cow Herd Efficiency Calculator

April 2020

For additional information, contact Xiurui ‘Iris’ Cui, xcui10@utk.edu

The Dairy Margin Coverage Calculator is an Excel-based tool that will help dairy producers estimate what potential payments would have been under the Dairy Margin Coverage Program established in the Agricultural Act of 2018. Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) replaces the Margin Protection Program (MPP) that replaced the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program.

This tool will show what payments might have been had the DMC been in place in previous years. Note that since the program was not in force, premiums may have been different to reflect insurance costs at that time. Nonetheless, looking back at previous years gives an idea as to how the program might have helped your operation. The tool will not compare payments you may have received under MILC program with or under the MPP program.

Shaded cells are available to change. On the tab for each year, enter annual production in pounds, the margin (threshold) you wish to insure, and the level of production you wish to insure. The premium and return to participation in the program at the chosen level will calculate automatically. Navigation buttons are also provided on each page to move from one year to the next.

This tool is designed to help producers who wish to use DMC to estimate the cost and potential return to the program.

Red triangles in the corner of a cell indicate additional information about the contents or values that should be entered in that cell. The Print button allows the user to print a one page summary.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this tool is intended to be used for informational purposes only. The premium this tool calculates may not be the exact premium owed by the producer. Users should evaluate the premium and potential payments carefully and check with Margin Protection Program providers to determine exact premiums and potential payments for their operation. Premium calculations in this tool are preliminary based on current knowledge and subject to change once the Margin Protection Program rules and regulations are written by USDA.

Note Regarding Security Settings: The decision-aid file contains macros (examples: buttons for printing and moving from the intro page to the calculator) which are required for the calculator to function properly. Security settings for Microsoft Office or Excel may give you warnings when you open the file regarding the safety of enabling the macros. This will especially be true if your security settings are set to high or very high. The macros in the file must be enabled for the calculator to function properly.

Download Dairy Margin Coverage Calculator

Updated January 2021

For additional information, contact Andrew Griffith, agriff14@tennessee.edu

The Fencing Budgets Calculator was developed as a decision aid tool to help Tennessee landowners estimating the cost of fencing their land. The calculator will assist in developing budgets for barbed wire, woven wire, HT fixed knot, HT electric, and poly fence.

Note Regarding Security Settings: The decision-aid file contains macros (examples: buttons for printing and moving from the intro page to the calculator) which are required for the calculator to function properly. Security settings for Microsoft Office or Excel may give you warnings when you open the file regarding the safety of enabling the macros. This will especially be true if your security settings are set to high or very high. The macros in the file must be enabled for the calculator to function properly.

Download Fencing Budgets Calculator

For additional information, contact David Bilderback, dbilderb@tennessee.edu

The Fertilizer Cost Calculator is an Excel based calculator which will help you evaluate the cost of applying varying levels of fertilizer and using various products. The Calculator should be used as a tool (along with a soil test) to evaluate estimated costs per acre for fertilizer.

The only fields in the spreadsheet which can be changed are:

  • Price per ton for Urea, Ammonium Nitrate, DAP and Muriate of Potash
  • Application rate per acre of (N,P2O5, and K2O) – example (60-30-30 or 60-0-30)
  • Application costs per acre ($/acre) – this may be a charge/acre to be truck spread, or a buggy rental fee prorated on a per acre basis.

For traditional standard blends of fertilizer (6-12-12 or 19-19-19) application rate would be adjusted by the number of pounds planned to apply per acre. Example: 200 pounds of 19-19-19 per acre would have the application rate of 38-38-38 and 300 pounds per acre would be an application rate of 57-57-57. A current soil test will assist you in evaluating the feasibility of applying a standard blend of fertilizer.

Note Regarding Security Settings: The decision-aid file contains macros (examples: buttons for printing and moving from the intro page to the calculator) which are required for the calculator to function properly. Security settings for Microsoft Office or Excel may give you warnings when you open the file regarding the safety of enabling the macros. This will especially be true if your security settings are set to high or very high. The macros in the file must be enabled for the calculator to function properly.

Download Fertilizer Cost Calculator

For additional information, contact Tammy McKinley, mckinley@tennessee.edu

The Grain Hauling Cost Calculator was developed as a decision aid to assist Tennessee producers in estimating the cost of transporting corn, wheat, and soybeans from their farm to alternative locations. Costs (total, dollars per bushel, or custom rate equivalent in dollars per mile) can be compared between marketing locations based on user-entered parameters.

Note Regarding Security Settings: The decision-aid file contains macros (examples: buttons for printing and moving from the intro page to the calculator) which are required for the calculator to function properly. Security settings for Microsoft Office or Excel may give you warnings when you open the file regarding the safety of enabling the macros. This will especially be true if your security settings are set to high or very high. The macros in the file must be enabled for the calculator to function properly.

Feed cost is most often the largest variable expense in a cow/calf operation. The method of storing hay can greatly impact these costs by potentially increasing the amount of hay needed to meet the herd’s nutritional requirements. The method of storage can impact not only the quantity of hay available but also the quality. The reduction in quality due to storage method can in turn impact the herd’s performance and efficiency and ultimately your bottom line.

In addition to the losses incurred due to the method of storage, there are losses due to the feeding method utilized. The storage and feeding losses are cumulative and can greatly impact the amount of hay needed to be produced or purchased to meet the nutritional requirements of the herd.

The Hay Calculator is an Excel-based tool which can help a user evaluate the impact of improving their storage and feeding methods to reduce losses and costs.

In addition to understanding potential losses from storage and feeding methods, the impact the quality of the forage has on how much an animal can consume must also be understood. The Quality Analysis portion of this tool will help compare two hay/forage samples and provide measures that can help identify hay/forages best suited for varying classes of cattle.

Note Regarding Security Settings: The decision-aid file contains macros (examples: buttons for printing and moving from the intro page to the calculator) which are required for the calculator to function properly. Security settings for Microsoft Office or Excel may give you warnings when you open the file regarding the safety of enabling the macros. This will especially be true if your security settings are set to high or very high. The macros in the file must be enabled for the calculator to function properly.

Download Hay Calculator

For additional information, contact Tammy McKinley, mckinley@tennessee.edu

The Replant Net Return Estimator was developed as a decision aid to assist Tennessee producers in estimating the change in revenue and cost (net return) when evaluating a replant decision for corn and soybeans. The spreadsheet allows the user to estimate the net return from replanting corn or soybeans. The spreadsheet does not allow changing planting decisions from corn to soybeans. Producers should always consult their crop insurance provider prior to making any replant decisions.

Note Regarding Security Settings: The decision-aid file contains macros (examples: buttons for printing and moving from the intro page to the calculator) which are required for the calculator to function properly. Security settings for Microsoft Office or Excel may give you warnings when you open the file regarding the safety of enabling the macros. This will especially be true if your security settings are set to high or very high. The macros in the file must be enabled for the calculator to function properly.

Download Replant Net Return Calculator

For additional information, contact Aaron Smith, aaron.smith@tennessee.edu

The Switchgrass Production Decision Tool is an Excel-based decision tool for potential switchgrass producers that provides the user with detailed information on costs incurred in each stage of a switchgrass operation in each year of its duration (assumed to be 10 years in this tool).

THE Beef Cattle fIRM is a computer software program designed for beef cattle farmers and ranchers. It is a tool to help maintain individual cow, bull, and calf performance; sale information; and inventory records. Performance summaries are then available for each cow, bull, group or even the entire calf crop. These records can then be used to make business decisions based upon performance.

THE Beef Cattle fIRM has some new features

  • Transfer data automatically for replacement females.
    • Identify replacement heifers in the calf database
    • Transfer birth and pedigree information to the cow database with one click
  • Export Calf or Cow data to a spreadsheet.
    • Select the fields to export
    • Allows user to examine data in more detail
  • Import Calf Data from a spreadsheet.
    • Weaning weights and Electronic IDs can be imported directly into the calf database
    • Weights can be exported from electronic scales to a spreadsheet and then imported directly into the program
  • New Cow/Calf Inventory Report Added.
    • Lists active cows in the herd along with birth information of calves
  • Improved data entry verification to decrease data entry errors.
  • Ability to display the program full screen on monitor.
  • Import data directly from previous version.
  • Improved backup data feature.

THE Beef Cattle fIRM uses Cattlemen’s Sense

  • Enter Bull and Cow Data once, then enter calf records as calves are born or weaned.
  • View data, summaries and reports on screen or print to your printer.
  • Print blank input forms from the program as you need them.
  • Add your own codes to fit your needs.
  • Select data to include in reports. Use Calf Crop, Birth Dates, Weaning Dates, Yearling Dates, Breeding Dates or Pregnancy Check Dates.
  • Beef Industry Federation (BIF) Standards are used to calculate performance measures.
  • Complete herd health history including preventive vaccinations and treatments can be applied to the cow herd, calf crop, herd sires and/or individual animal record or groups of records.

THE Beef Cattle fIRM is flexible and easy to use

  • Easy backup and restore.
  • Pick Lists and Pre-filled Fields for quick entry of repeatable information and dates.
  • Find animals by Eartag number or permanent ID.
  • Enter only the information you wish to keep on your herd. Most data fields are optional.
  • Print reports in the order you want, including by location or group.
  • Unlimited Cow, Calf, and Bull numbers.
  • Expert support by University personnel who can answer both computer and management questions!
THE Beef Cattle fIRM logo

THE Beef Cattle fIRM brochure and order form

Current registered users are eligible to purchase the latest version at a discounted price. Please call 1-800-345-0561 for details.

For additional information, contact Andrew Griffith, agriff14@tennessee.edu

Informational Videos

The Wood Resource Transportation Analysis System (WTRANS) is a spreadsheet based program which allows wood residue users to examine:

  • where hardwood and softwood green mill residues may be located on a county-by-county basis in Tennessee,
  • estimates of transportation and delivered product costs on a county-to-county basis in Tennessee,
  • estimates of transportation and delivered product costs to your county from each county in Tennessee,
  • potential residue needs for energy use, and
  • estimated fuel cost comparisons using residues for greenhouse heating

How Can I Use WTRANS?

If you are a user of wood residues or a firm interested in transporting residues, you may find WTRANS useful. Wood residue users may use WTRANS to find counties where residues are produced and the potential cost of transporting these residues to their county (Transportation Analysis Option). If you are a wood residue supplier, you may find WTRANS useful for estimating transportation costs to a destination point (Transportation Analysis Option). In addition, if you use residues for generating energy, you may find the Wood for Energy option very useful. It enables you to estimate your residue needs based on your energy needs. While default values are provided to run WTRANS, you may change many of the values in WTRANS to match your firm’s situation (Edit Residue Parameters and Edit Transportation Parameters Options).

WTRANS contains several options. These are Transportation Analysis, Edit Transportation Parameters, Edit Residue Resources, and Wood for Energy. A brief description of each of these options is provided below:

Transportation Analysis: This performs two types of analyses for costs of transporting wood residues:

  1. A statewide type analysis of transportation of residues to a particular destination county and amounts of residues by county, and presents the results on a Tennessee map, and
  2. A county-to-county type analysis (residues in the origin county and transportation costs to your county) and presents the results in a message box.

Edit Transportation Parameters: This option enables the transportation parameters used in WTRANS to be adjusted. The transportation parameters that can be adjusted include residue material properties, truck weight and volume limits, and costs of operation.

Edit Residue Parameters: This allows you to view and change permanently the residue resource parameters for the whole state or by county. This option has a dialog box interface and the residue resources can be changed by user input through edit boxes.

Wood for Energy: This option enables potential users of wood residues for energy to estimate their residue needs to obtain a given level of BTUs or kilowatt-hours. Once the amount of residues needed is determined, the user then can enter the Transportation Analysis section to examine where residues may be located and the costs of transport to their county.

Download WTRANS

Download Users Guide

For additional information, contact Burton EnglishKim Jensen or Bill Park