There are some valid production practices that will add dollars to a farmer’s pocket, and they are cheap. In fact, they cost nothing except for the doing. Crop prices are set, and set low. The only way to make money is to bring the cost of production down.
Going cheap doesn’t have to be a nightmare and can be done without hurting per unit production, and might even increase yield and top-side profits.
First, there’s to plant earlier. There are many benefits to earlier planting. This is probably the cheapest and biggest advantage. It won’t hurt the crop to lay in the ground for a week or two waiting for soil temperatures to rise. Then, when the good weather comes, the crop is off to a good start. That’s when many farmers start into the field.
Starting early allows to plant the longer season varieties for each particular growing region, increasing yield potential and virtually assuring an earlier harvest.
Crop rotation doesn’t cost any money, but can mean lower fertilizer costs when corn follows beans, higher yields, and much lower herbicide costs for both crops.
Other suggestions include:
- Delay tillage and field traffic untill good soil conditions exist. Yield losses result from compaction because root structures are restricted. This will hurt yields more than planting late. For lighter soils, do only enough tillage to get adecuate planter operation.
- Do soil tests and apply only those nutrients that are determined by soil analyses to be limiting yield. A reputable lab has to be found, and then follow the recommendations. It must be taken into account that fertilizer dealers are in business to make money.
- Set realistic yield goals based on previous history and productivity, and do not overapply nitrogen. To determine nitrogen requirements, consider pratical yield goals and nitrogen remaining from the previous crop, soil drainage and application practices. Where there was a legume, reduce nitrogen rates to take advantage of nitrogen left in the soil.
- Use manure, or plant a green manure crop, if the plot is placed in a warmer climate. Green manure must be able to set nitrogen to avoid wasting money. Both contain a lot of fertilizer benefits and can greatly reduce fertilizer costs.