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Why Stay Current on Soil Sampling?

Sep 17, 2021

By: Blake Groeneweg, CFE Precision Ag Lead

Fall harvest is right around the corner and already begun for some. Crop prices are the best we have seen in a few years. As you think about setting the foundation for the 2022 crop, be sure to check with your Agronomist what fields you need soil sampling this year. Every 4 years we recommend taking soil samples to manage your soil fertility and pH. Grid sampling is very important to keep your field in top production. At CFE we have the equipment and technology to get lime and fertilizer in the areas where it is required. Our Manure Management team lead Kristy Knutson would also like to remind growers, their Manure Management Plan needg current samples! Expired samples is normally one of the biggest items that delay the MMP. DNR requires samples to be 4 years or newer for your Manure Management Plan. Kristy also says to keep track of your application records with date, application rates and where the manure was applied.

Even with improved grain prices, growers cannot afford to put out fertilizer that is not resulting in a return on their investment. Soil sampling is the foundation of a lot of precision ag programs. CFE’s Innovate Program can take your yield maps and base soil samples to identify more productive areas of the field. This data is used to build fertility rates for application in those specific areas that are providing a return on investment. For example: the chart below identifies differences of a flat rate input cost structure compared to a variable rate program:
 
Corn price  $           5.00          
Input Cost  $       800.00  $       800.00  $       800.00  $  800.00  $    800.00  $   800.00
Bushels 220 200 180 160 140       180.00
Corn price  $           5.00  $           5.00  $           5.00  $       5.00  $         5.00  $       5.00
Return  $   1,100.00  $   1,000.00  $       900.00  $  800.00  $    700.00  $   900.00
Income  $       300.00  $       200.00  $       100.00  $            -    $  (100.00)  $   100.00
Margin 27% 20% 11% 0% -14% 9%
 

When we manage our fields accordingly, we give our most productive soils the ability to produce more than if we treated the whole field the same. In addition, we can manage cost on the unproductive soils and manage the acres that have a negative return. Like the table below shows we can reduce negative margin acres and increase the most profitable acres:
 
  A zone A Zone B Zone C zone D zone  
Input Cost  $       800.00  $       800.00  $       700.00  $  600.00  $    500.00  $   680.00
Bushels 240 220 200 170 140       194.00
Corn price  $           5.00  $           5.00  $           5.00  $       5.00  $         5.00  $       5.00
Return  $   1,200.00  $   1,100.00  $   1,000.00  $  850.00  $    700.00  $   970.00
Income  $       400.00  $       300.00  $       300.00  $  250.00  $    200.00  $   290.00
Margin 33% 27% 30% 29% 29% 30%
 
 
Once the data is collected, we get a field setup with zones like the picture below. This will result in the placement of seed and fertilizer exactly where it needs to be placed.

Picture1.png

Soil sampling is the foundation for our Innovate Program and allows the soil samples to drive your inputs to where they need to be. Making your farm the most profitable it can be.  

One last notable item, soil samples taken with CFE are held with high data integrity. We store the sample location points and when 4 years come around, we can go back to those same points. This gives our sample data a high level of repeatably when it comes to tracking pH, organic matter movements, and how phosphorus and potassium applications changed the soil fertility levels.

Talk to your CFE Agronomist about getting your fields soil sampled today and enjoy years of success to follow.

 


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