With commodity prices expected to remain low for the foreseeable future, farmers across the nation are looking for ways to maintain high yields and profitable operations without large outlays of cash.
After harvest, you will likely have plenty of options to look at, all of which could help you remain profitable. Below, you’ll find tips from two university researchers and a Nebraska farmer that you can put into practice once your crops are out of the field. We asked each of them to name the most important things farmers should do in preparation for next year.
1) Soil testing
Shawn Conley, Ph.D., professor of agronomy, University of Wisconsin: “Farmers should pull soil samples this fall and look closely at the results. Make sure you invest in potassium for next year’s soybean crop, because soybeans use a lot of potassium. Over the past 20 years, soil potassium levels have been dropping, making this especially important.”
Gregg Fujan, soy checkoff farmer-leader from Nebraska: “Soil sampling definitely comes to my mind first. This is extremely important, it’s fairly easy and it gives a good idea of soil productivity.”
2) Input purchases
Chad Lee, Ph.D., extension agronomist, University of Kentucky: “There are a lot of early-purchase incentive programs out there for various inputs. Don’t rush into those purchases. You should be absolutely certain of the seed varieties or fertilizer types you want to buy before making those decisions.”
3) Seed selection
Lee: “Take a good amount of time to pick and test seed varieties for next season. There is ample data on yield out there, and it can make a huge difference in your per-acre returns on your investment.”
4) Weed control
Fujan: “You should investigate the possibility of fall weed control to deal with fall and winter weeds. Some of the winter annuals have been getting traction in recent years, and it will be important to stay ahead of these weeds.”
Conley: “You should also plan for a pre-emergence herbicide program and use multiple modes of action for next year. Make sure you plan to scout for the most troublesome weeds on your fields.”
5) Yield map fertility assessment
Lee: “Take a close look at your yield maps and other harvest data to assess where you had the most severe problems. Things like compaction and nutrient deficiency can be responded to, as opposed to fields where problems were caused mainly by weather patterns.”
Fujan: “The next thing would be making decisions about fertility, based on projected commodity prices and the costs of various inputs.”