Title page for ETD etd-07122007-141201

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Barker, Francis Gil
URN etd-07122007-141201
Title An Economic Evaluation of Sugarcane Combine Harvester Costs and Optimal Harvest Schedules for Louisiana
Degree Master of Science (M.S.)
Department Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Michael E. Salassi Committee Chair
Lynn Kennedy Committee Member
Steven Henning Committee Member
  • economics
  • harvest
  • sugarcane
Date of Defense 2007-07-02
Availability unrestricted
Rising production costs, primarily associated with increasing fuel and fertilizer prices, combined with a relatively flat to slightly declining market price trend, have significantly reduced profit margins from sugarcane production in Louisiana over the past few years. Harvest operations are one area in which growers can have considerable influence on costs per unit. Estimation of current sugarcane harvest costs as well as economic evaluation of the impact of various factors on the performance and cost of this production phase are important to growers in conducting these harvest operations as efficiently and cost effectively as possible.

The general objective of this research project was to estimate the current fixed and variable costs of harvesting sugarcane in Louisiana with combine harvest units and to determine optimal harvest schedules for groups of farms delivering sugarcane to a common mill. Using 2004 input prices, average estimated harvest costs were calculated to be $2.41 per ton for fixed expenses and $2.79 per ton for variable expenses, resulting in a total harvest cost of $5.20 per ton. A cost analysis conducted to evaluate the impact of increased truck waiting time at the mill on farm level harvest costs found that for every one minute of waiting time at the farm during harvest operations, the total harvest fuel and labor costs were increased by approximately $1.30 per acre.

An integer linear programming model was developed which simulated the daily delivery of approximately 10,000 tons of harvested sugarcane with the goal of scheduling harvest operations of all farms to better coordinate trucking operations. Results of the linear programming analysis demonstrated that transport operations between farm and mill, which impacts harvest operation efficiency, could be improved with better coordination of harvest operation scheduling across a large group of farms.

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