2020
Developing an interactive web app for calculating soybean crop budgets
Contributor/Checkoff:
Category:
Sustainable Production
Keywords:
Data ManagementDrone/UAS
Parent Project:
This is the first year of this project.
Lead Principal Investigator:
Alan Leslie, University of Maryland
Co-Principal Investigators:
Project Code:
Contributing Organization (Checkoff):
Institution Funded:
Brief Project Summary:

The objective of this project is to create an interactive, web-based application that allows farmers to easily manipulate as many input costs as possible to create budgets that specifically tailored to their operation. This application expands on existing crop budgets to include costs associated with herbicide programs available with new soybean varieties now on the market. An interactive, online application allows easy comparisons of different potential crop production strategies. This tool also combines efficacy reports and recommendations from multiple sources to provide a single tool to allow farmers to easily compare multiple pesticide options to help guide decisions to result in pesticide applications that are not only profitable, but also efficacious for their target pests.

Key Benefactors:
farmers, agronomists, Extension agents

Information And Results
Final Project Results

Update:

View uploaded report Word file

View uploaded report 2 Word file

This project has designed and published a web-based budget tool for calculating soybean crop budgets
in a way that is user-friendly, flexible, and interactive. The current version of the app can be found using
the URL: https://awleslie.shinyapps.io/budget_4/. The web app includes all of the functions of the
previous excel-based budget tool, with additional flexibility in the choices that can be made in terms of
pest management options and for different genetically modified seed packages. All of the options are
available to choose and change on the same page, which makes comparing different production options
very easy. The former Excel-based budget tool required multiple spreadsheets to compare production
costs of growing soybeans with different herbicide tolerance packages. This version allows you to quickly
choose between herbicide tolerance packages and changes to show you the available pesticide options
for each variety of soybean seed. The new online tool also simplifies record-keeping with the built-in
option of downloading all of the information entered into the budget in PDF format to save for later
reference. This PDF printout includes all field information and will include additional recommendations
related to pest management that change depending on the choices selected in the online application.
We have received positive feedback about the utility of the web app and we are committed to providing
updates to the tool in the future to ensure that farmers continue to find it useful. We have included a
user survey to collect recommendations from farmers about how to improve the tool in the future and
some feedback has already been incorporated into the current version. While building this tool, we
conducted a survey of existing budget tools produced by other land-grant institutions across the state to
find out what options are most often included in budgets, and what other options might be missing from
the UMD budget. Similar budget tools were found from 29 of the 50 states, and Excel spreadsheets
seem to be the standard method for creating budgets. New Jersey seems to be the only state to have
released an online budget tool, but it is incredibly generic. We found that the UMD tool incorporates
most of the variables that other budgets from across the country use, and did identify a couple of areas
where we stand apart. The main difference between many of these budgets and the current UMD
budget tool is in how the cost of field operations are entered into the budget. Some other tools use
direct measures of labor, fuel, and machinery maintenance, while the UMD tool uses average rates from
local operations offering custom planting and harvesting services as a proxy for the direct measures of
performing these operations yourself. Using custom rates simplifies the input, but may not be an
accurate representation of actual costs, and may not be useful for predicting input costs with changing
fuel and labor prices. Costs of drying fuel and irrigation are two additional variables that we would
consider adding to future versions of the budget.
Currently the online soybean budget is in its fourth version, and built-in metrics for the website show
that the tool is being accessed and used on a regular basis. We hope to continue to update and modify
the budget app through the future, and continue to promote the use of the app by farmers. Costs for
different agrichemicals, field operations, fertilizers, and other inputs can be updated annually as new
average prices become available. Pesticide options will also be updated as new chemicals come in and
old chemicals are phased out of the market. To further promote the use of this project and the impact of
the funding by the MD Soybean Board, all of the files containing codes used to build this online tool

have been published in a public digital repository under a GNU General Public Use license. This will allow
other users to discover and share the code and potentially modify it for use in other states or for other
crops. The repository recognizes the role that the MD Soybean Board has played in funding the start of
this tool, and the license will ensure that subsequent versions remain free and open-source for others to
use. As the code is updated through subsequent versions of the web app, these revised codes will also
be uploaded to the repository and be made available to the public. Our hope is that this project may
provide accessible and intuitive crop budget planning to help support Maryland soybean farmers,
especially through unpredictable financial times.

The United Soybean Research Retention policy will display final reports with the project once completed but working files will be purged after three years. And financial information after seven years. All pertinent information is in the final report or if you want more information, please contact the project lead at your state soybean organization or principal investigator listed on the project.