In September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will begin contacting soybean and oat growers to learn about their production practices during the 2015 growing season. NASS and USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) jointly conduct the Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS), which gathers data on farmers’ fertilizer and chemical use, pest management and irrigation practices, and production costs.

“One of the major benefits of this study is that the data gathered will be used to assist in the re- registration of existing pesticides and the registration of new pesticides. This information is needed so the Environmental Protection Agency has actual pesticide usage data from farmers to make these decisions rather than just assuming maximum label rates are being applied,” said NASS’ Iowa Field Office director, Greg Thessen. “The results of this survey will also help agricultural leaders and decision-makers better understand how producers cope with risks and make decisions about chemical use, new technologies and other aspects of farming,” added Thessen.

In Iowa, data will only be collected from about 300 soybean and 150 oat producers. Given the limited number of farmers being contacted, participation of every producer is critical.  Please take the time to complete an interview if you are contacted by your local NASS representative. They will begin contacting selected producers in September and continuing through mid-December, which will hopefully allow farmers enough time to complete the report at their convenience.  NASS safeguards the privacy of all survey respondents and publishes only state and national-level data from this survey, ensuring that no individual operation or grower can be identified.

The last nationwide production practice study for soybeans and oats was conducted in 2012 and 2005, respectively.  Since then, it is likely that farmers have changed how they grow these crops. Therefore, the data collected from this survey will provide a voice for farmers to show how current production practices have changed and improved.

The results of the ARMS will be released on NASS’s website at on May 13, 2016.