Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Thomas L. Dobbs


This thesis research focused on the economic viability of alternative farming systems which forego chemical inputs and emphasize crop rotations and legumes. The alternative farming systems were found to have distinctly lower direct cash costs of production. However, in one set of comparisons, these lower direct cash costs were not enough to offset the lower gross income received with the alternative system; thus, this system exhibited the lowest net return over costs. In the other set of comparisons, the lower direct costs were of sufficient magnitude for the alternative system to exhibit the highest net return over costs. Sensitivity analyses were also conducted to observe the effects of changes in selected variables on net returns of the respective farming systems. When increased input prices, increased alternative system crop yields, or decreased Federal Government involvement in agriculture was assumed, the viability of the alternative systems improved relative to the other farming systems in most cases. Livestock enterprises were also included in the analyses to determine what effect they have on the economic viability of the farming systems. The alternative system which included alfalfa hay in its crop rotation benefited relatively more than the other farming systems with the inclusion of a livestock enterprise. The results of these analyses showed the alternative systems to have good prospects of being economically viable in the northeastern part of South Dakota.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Agricultural systems -- Economic aspects -- South Dakota

Cropping systems -- Economics aspects -- South Dakota

Farm management -- Economics aspects -- South Dakota

Crop rotation -- Economic aspects -- South Dakota



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University