Thompson Cropping System Analysis

Published Feb 5, 2004

Richard and Sharon Thompson, near Boone, also use a five-year rotation, but unlike Jeff Klinge and Deb Tidwell, they do not sell organic crops. They rely on above-average yields and the integration of the cropping and livestock enterprises to achieve consistently greater profitability than the cash-grain, corn-soybean rotation typical of central Iowa. This integration includes the “sale,” at market prices, of significant amounts of crop residue, stubble, and straw to the swine and cattle enterprises. The following is excerpted from the Thompson Research Report, published annually by Dick and Sharon Thompson.

“The 5-year rotation advantage over the 2-year rotation is shown in Figure 6. We use the Boone county 2-year rotation dollar-per-acre net returns to tell us if we are making any progress. During the first five years, our advantage was $119 per acre, and the last 5 years’ returns have increased by $74, to $193 per acre. The dip in returns in 1990 was from low oat prices; the dip in 1991 was caused by corn yield of 10 bushel below county average and only a 65 bushels-per-acre oat yield; the 1995 dip was from oat yield of only 5 bushel over the county average and only 9,000 lbs hay per acre; the 1997 dip was a poor, 8,000-lb hay yield; the l999 dip was from corn yields 17 bushels below county average and oat yield 5 bushels below the county yield. The record spread in 2002 was from ll6-bushel oats at $1.80, over 5,000 lbs oat straw and stubble hay; hay yield was over 14,000 lbs per acre also.”