This is Nathan Mueller, UNL Cropping Systems Extension Educator in Fremont, NE. Reducing input cost for next season’s crop is something many are thinking about given the low commodity prices. Reducing inputs in certain areas may not always be a profitable management decision. A big step is to develop an accrual balance for each crop or farm so you know your costs. You should be able to answer how many bushel increase do I need to cover my added cost?
Even though your seed, fertilizer, and chemical only make up about 35% of production cost, there still can be some strategic savings or increased profits to be found.
First SEED. In regards to seed cost, really focus on utilizing third-party trials, company trials, and on-farm results to select the best performing genetics for your farm and management. The average yield difference in soybean varieties on the market is 15 bu/ac, yet the price per unit may on vary $5.
Second, FERTILIZER, have you been building you soil test P levels over the past few years? Spending money to get a more recent soil tests taken at the recommend depth and sampling method with either field, management zone, or grid, will improve your probability of targeting applications where they are needed most. Only pay for soil analysis that you need.
The build and maintain versus the sufficiency approach to fertilization should be critically assessed. Can I skip two-years of phosphorus fertilization if my soil test phosphorus is high?
Third, CHEMICAL, weed escapes, especially from waterhemp, were prominent in 2014, more so in hail-damaged fields. Focus on a herbicide program that addresses improved waterhemp control in 2015, this will likely be an area where higher chemical cost may return a profit.
To read this radio message, please visit my website at croptechcafe.org or call me with questions at 402-727-2775.This is Nathan Mueller, UNL Cropping Systems Extension Educator on KTIC radio.