Efficiency is King: 2022 will be the year of making the most out of your input dollars
While this year is bringing many challenges and extremes, efficiency will be of the most importance. An agronomist has tips on how you can make the most of your input dollars.
“I think it’s going to be very important that we maximize our return on investment, and that’s going to be mainly achieved by getting the highest yields that we can out of the fields. What we’ve been suggesting to people is to actually work with their local agronomist or universities. We’ve had several universities that have had farmers come in with their soil samples and they’ve taught them how to actually read it and how to plan. I think the biggest thing that we’re trying to identify is what is the state of fertility is; in our high fertility areas, those are lowest-return on our investment as you can look at your fertilizer dollar that goes in and your low fertility is going to give you your biggest payback,” according to Greg Peters with LG Seeds.
Peters says that farmers especially want to apply only as much fertilizer as necessary and soil sampling can help identify needs.
“Soil sampling is very important. It really gives us the idea of what’s occurring in that field. It’s a little late now for us to soil sample, but I encourage next fall to soil sample what hasn’t been recently done... This season, there’s actually two other tests that we can utilize. It’s the late spring nitrate test-- we can use to actually help us as we’re spoon-feeding nitrogen to the crop,” he adds. “It helps us see what’s actually been mineralized, and then there’s also tissue sampling that we can do. It can be used for in-season nitrogen needs but also more micronutrient needs.”
He says that nitrogen will have the biggest influence on yield if a farmer has issues within the soil.
“I think the biggest thing is we need to make sure that our timing is right because nitrogen is a mobile nutrient. I think it’s important that we actually focus on the needs of the plant. Its critical stages are in the V5 to the tassel stage... So, we’re highly recommending spoon-feeding where we can, what we’re doing is trying to eliminate as much of the environmental influences on the availability of the nitrogen, and the other thing is that if we get into situations where if we’re in an extreme drought or lose a crop because of severe weather or something like that, we can lower our input needs into that field,” he explains.
Nitrogen availability has the potential to become even more of a problem than price: “We’ve seen a lot of producers this season that have had to work with different suppliers and different sources. A lot of guys are planning on ammonia but had to move into liquid or dry and one of the things that we’ve seen this season is that the prices have been volatile. I think the biggest thing is, is keeping your options open as we look for this next season,” he notes. “The other thing is that we need to look at population, a lot of guys are looking at reducing populations because lowering their nitrogen needs.”