Bright spots in US corn production

Figure from paper


We adopt an approach known as bright spots analysis to identify U.S. regions with surprisingly high corn yields given regional expectations, seasonal weather, and soil characteristics. These counties are regional “surprises” that, by definition, achieve unexpectedly high levels of agricultural productivity. We then use multinomial logistic regression to identify the actionable factors-or the factors over which agricultural stakeholders can exert a certain level of control-that most strongly predict whether a county is a bright spot. We find that farmers in surprisingly productive regions spend an average of $17.6 more per acre on fertilizer, $12.4 more per acre on labor, irrigate 12% more of operated land, and receive $6.6 more per acre from government programs than those cultivating in less productive regions. We conclude by questioning whether and to what extent these attributes of productive regions can be managed for a sustainable future. You can read the full paper here.

Environmental Research Letters
Dr. Emily Burchfield
Dr. Emily Burchfield
Assistant Professor