Most research on efficiency of farm management focuses on the relationship between an array of individual management variables and technical performance. Few studies have analysed the relationship between the total complex of farm management and technical farm performance. The present study uses the concept of strategic management and applies it to nitrogen management on Dutch arable farms. Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) was used to assess farm specific efficiency scores for fertiliser use. For a sub-sample of the farms used in the DEA analysis, the strategic management concept was addressed by means of a workshop. The management elements (objectives, internal analysis of weaknesses and strengths, external analysis of opportunities and threats, and synthesis) were made operational by relating them to the introduction of the Mineral Accounting System (MINAS) by 2001 for Dutch arable farms. The external analysis was evaluated by questions about the MINAS rules; the internal analysis was evaluated by questions on the expected consequences for the farmer's N management. An interactive simulation model evaluating whether farmers were able to choose the optimal fertilisation strategy in view of MINAS assessed the 'quality of the synthesis'. A positive significant correlation was found between the 'quality of the synthesis' and N efficiency. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- technical efficiency