; Improving Decision Making Skills in Agriculture | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Improving Decision Making Skills in Agriculture

Jay Parsons and Johannes Siebert


Agricultural producers operate in the presence of very high uncertainty, typically making decisions with multiple short term and long-term objectives in mind. This can be overwhelming and can lead to mistakes made trying to avoid complexity or provide an answer without fully understanding the unique context in which the producer is making decisions. We created a decision-making process that puts the focus on creating desired outcomes while establishing a good risk management culture. It provides a robust decision-making framework while building proactive decision-making skills. The decision-making process is introduced at the beginning of the practicum and students are periodically reminded of it as they work through the remaining course materials focused general ranch production issues.

Can farmers and ranchers learn proactive decision-making skills? Can they learn to make decisions that more consistently produce desired outcomes? How can we measure that progress?

Since 2017, we have conducted a pre- and post-evaluation of proactive decision-making skills at the Nebraska Ranch Practicum, an 8-month experience consisting of eight days of instruction on ranching principles in a systems context. The results show participants assess their proactive cognitive skills significantly higher after the practicum. They indicate more awareness of objectives and better ability to use objectives to search for relevant information and systematically create better alternatives. Furthermore, they indicate a tendency to plan their decisions more purposefully. These results provide evidence of the impact teaching decision making concepts can have on decision makers in agriculture.