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Variable Yield Leads to Variable Rate Fertilizer

Oct 13, 2022

By: Blake Groeneweg, CFE Precision Ag Lead

The 2022 crop harvest is in full motion along with the yield numbers on the yield monitor. Many growers will see fantastic yields and some not so fantastic yields. As yield data rolls across the screen painting a map of various colors think, “How am I going to fertilize this?”

A simple answer I have is, use your yield map! Fertilizer prices are high as well as grain prices, let’s match them up and apply exactly the fertilizer you removed, through grain, back on that acre of the field. Your investment of fertilizer should at least match the acres providing a good return. An investment manager deliberately places assets in areas of higher returns and avoids areas of low return outcomes. Apply the same principles to your farming operation. In farming, there is fixed costs, and there are variable costs. For example, when applying a product, the cost of application is fixed whereas the amount of product can vary throughout the field. All of CFE’s machinery is capable of applying variable rate products.

Let’s do some math on this. A corn field yielding an average of 200 bushels per acre is probably ranging from 170 to 230 bushels per acre. This represents a 60 bushel range, or 23 units of phosphorus removed. At today’s price of 90 cents per unit of phosphorus, this calculates to about $21.00 range. Let’s add in potassium for another $11.00 an acre. As the grower, you can use your yield map and move $32.00 of fertilizer from the low to the high yielding acres in the field. This places that money in a productive area with greater potential for a return on investment. Most growers have made the investment in a yield monitor and GPS for the combine. It is there collecting data to utilize and assist managing input costs on every acre. We can use that information in the spring to place other inputs such as seed and nitrogen. Moving 3,000 seeds of corn an acre is moving $12.00 of seed inputs. We can place 20 units of nitrogen moves another $18.00 an acre. That’s a total of $60.00 of inputs being moved around in the field.

Utilize your CFE agronomist help with your fertilizer investments this fall and start placing your investments on the right acre.

 


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