Instructor: Dr. Mark Licht
Office: 2104M Agronomy Hall
Phone: (515) 294-0877




Course Overview

Agronomy 591 will help you further develop your agronomic analysis, critical thinking, and communication skills. You will be analyzing real cropping systems in the form of five case studies.

This is a good place to point out that these case studies were developed, in large part, by Dr. Mary Wiedenhoeft several years ago. I've updated portions of the case studies but they are very much how they were originally developed.

In the first case study, Hank, a farmer in north-central Iowa, is concerned about his corn stands. "Why do some plants look pale and stunted?", he asks. The second case study investigates a question that was posed by Alan and Suzanne Hunter, farmers in New York. The Hunters have transitioned from dairy farming to a farming system that produces harvested hay and sweet corn. As a consultant, how will you help them increase profitability?

The third case study will help you understand partial budgeting and sensitivity analysis. Many farmers make decisions after reviewing the agronomics and the economics. The fourth case study will allow you to analyze the effect of delaying irrigation on profitability. This case study, which takes place in central Nebraska, requires you to create a partial budget to determine profitability. The fifth and final case study centers on a farmer from central Iowa who is interested in building hog confinement units with the explicit goal of obtaining manure, thus eliminating the need to purchase synthetic fertilizers. You will help him by developing a manure management plan and determine whether he could increase his farm profits with the hog confinements.

The course is organized as follows:


1. What Happened?

2. Is Bt Sweet Corn a Really Sweet Deal?

3. Is Sulfur a Good Investment?

4. Can Delayed Furrow Irrigation Maintain Farming Profitability?

5. Obtaining Information

6. Collecting Information During a Farm Visit

7. Recommendations for Dave Keninger

8. Manure Allocations to Dave's Fields

Prerequisites for Agron 591

Agron 531, Agron 532, and Agron 533

Student Outcomes

At the end of the semester a student will have:

  • developed a holistic perspective of an agroecosystem, recognizing that an agroecosystem is influenced by biological, economic and social factors
  • further developed skills in acquiring information that is oral and written and assessing the relevance of the information
  • critically evaluated the agronomic and financial aspects of a farming system in order to identify components that can be changed and to understand the consequences of the changes in a farming system
  • further develop skills in critical thinking and problem solving in agronomic situations in order to develop recommendations with justification
  • further develop written and oral communications skills in order to persuade and inform an audience, using technically appropriate terminology