Using management control to solve agricultural problems.
Review the last two paragraphs of Book Support No. 5 concerning Toby Rogers, Political Economist. Watch the assigned 35-minute video interview of Toby Rogers by Del Bigtree on the Highwire web channel, and read Rogers’ PhD thesis abstract (page 6) and section 1.12, a statement of his research question (pages 66 and 67; note on the thesis document itself section 1.12 is numbered as pages 50 and 51, but when you view it on your screen it will be numbered as pages 66-67 on your viewer).
See how Rogers lays out his thesis and his research question; observe his methodology to help you think about how you will formulate your answer to this essay question.
THE ESSAY PROBLEM.
Select one of the ten world problems of concern listed on slide 11 of lecture 19.2 (or a problem of your own concern provided it pertains to agricultural management), and write an essay applying the functions of management control (see slide 5, Lecture 19.2 and also Lecture 11.1) to create a plan at both the individual farm and regional level that addresses the selected concern.
In WRITING YOUR ESSAY, use the headings below to organize the paragraphs:
1. Identification of region
Begin by identifying and describing the region you include in your analysis, for instance, you could define it as the “Sacramento Valley,” or as “Southern California,” or “Southern Oregon,” or Guangdong Province.” Although these regions are large areas, the farming systems practiced within each region are similar. Be sure to briefly describe the agricultural system, for example, the Sacramento Valley requires irrigation water to produce most crops; Southern Oregon is an area of mixed forest and rangeland most of which is not irrigated but instead relies on rain alone for forest production and cattle ranching.
2. Problem of concern
Describe the problem of concern: why it is a problem, some reasons why you know it is a problem, and what is the scope of the problem: who does it affect, how severe is it, what are its effects and consequences? For instance, guest lecturer Marty Main described how forest overgrowth creates both a loss of biodiversity and a huge fire hazard, as evidenced in the many very destructive and intense fires of the past decades. This then is a problem of environmental destruction, biodiversity loss (item 3 on slide 11 of lecture 19.2), and economic loss and harm to human health and safety (item 5 on the list) of considerable magnitude. Although Marty did not give dollar amounts of loss, he did describe the trend of increasing number of fires, and enumerated the loss of lives and property lost.
In this section of your essay you will assemble a short but comprehensive data set that shows you understand the problem and can describe it to a lay person who does not know much about the problem. Approach it as of you are trying to describe it to a friend, or your mother or father in a way
that will inform them sufficiently to follow your line of reasoning; when talking this way you do not cite references, but it is helpful to give a certain number of facts and figures to make a convincing argument.
3. Assumptions and goals
At this point it is appropriate to review your assumptions as well as your goals. For instance, what did Marty Main assume in his lecture? Certainly a lot; for instance he assumes that humans have a right to manage forests for economic benefit, as well as a moral responsibility to do it in a sustainable manner. He summarized his understanding in two profound ecological principles, “Everything matters and everything is connected.” As to goals, he elaborated quite a number of common forest ownership goals, including maintain a healthy forest, reduce fire hazard, and generate income.
Sometimes it is difficult to fully understand and state our assumptions. Nevertheless, make the effort to look deeply and give the reader some understanding of your moral philosophy as well as your biases; state your assumptions but make it brief.
Be sure to state one or more measurable, tangible goals for your plan; for example, “reduce the severity of fires in Southern Oregon from 10,000 square km per event to 5,000 square km within 10 years from today,” or “reduce the average number of trees per acre from 176 to 50 within 10 years of implementing this plan.”
4. Data assessment and analysis
This is where you analyze the data from step 3 above that will lead to your management plan. From analysis of the data you develop support points for your model and your plan. Your assessment and analysis can be based on standards, empirical results, historical records, etc. For instance, Marty showed how looking at tree rings showed trees growing faster and being healthier when the population density of the forest was lower, and he was able to describe how fires in times prior to the current era were less destructive because there was less fuel. He summarized his analysis that reducing the fuel load in forests is the sensible approach to achieving a variety of goals. He also discussed the levels of biodiversity (an analysis of the number of tree species) possible under different management practices throughout his lecture.
5. Proposed management plan
From your description (items 1 and 2 above) and your analysis (item 4) you have lead the reader to consider a model, as in “this is how I see the problem,” with supporting analysis, and thus you have lead them right up to your plan to address the problem. Now state what your plan is. For instance, it is clear that Marty advocated controlled burning and tree thinning to achieve his many forest management goals.
6. How the plan solves the problem and meets the goals
This will draw on the results of your analysis. For instance, Marty’s practices of controlled burning and tree thinning will reduce the severity of fires, thus reducing property damage and lives loss. It also increases biodiversity, reduces soil erosion, and allows for economic benefit through sustainable timber harvest.
This final section should convincingly state how you have solved the problem and the specific goals your plan is designed to achieve. Make sure it addresses the problem at the farm level and the regional level.
Re-evaluate your plan, your assumptions, and your analysis with critical thinking. What did you leave out, what did you not address, where do you see weaknesses, what additional data might be helpful, how might you improve the plan going forward?
You will be graded on organization and clarity of thought. Make a good convincing argument by following the instructions given above.
Remember that it is important in your analysis to have more than a single support for your argument. Provide at least three supports; USE THE ARE 140 CLASS LECTURES, BOOK SUPPORTS AND THE BOOKS THEMSELVES AS SOURCES FOR THE DATA AND SUPPORT OF YOUR ANALYSIS.
Outside research is not required, and will not give you a better grade. Of course outside research is not forbidden if you feel it adds to the strength of your argument and management plan.
Use your own experience and prior knowledge as support, too. The essay will be more convincing if you do.
For overall clarity, the description of the problem should “beg” or lead to the analysis, which in turn should lead to the conclusion, your management plan of action.
Do not exceed a total of 1,500 words for the entire essay (not including the standard headings). We understand this will limit the scope of your essay, and consequently it will not be the last word on the problem you have chosen to address. Again, your objective in this essay is to make a convincing case for your plan. The tone should be conversational, not excessively scholarly. Brevity forces you to be clear, precise and direct; this is a summary of your plan, not a treatise. Think of how TED talks get the point across in short presentations, usually about 15 minutes in length. Visualize presenting the case for your plan to your friends or parents in conversation.
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