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Show me the Money! Cropping Investments for 2019

February 08, 2019

Planning Season. We spend all winter looking at ways to improve the farm – shopping for equipment, attending meetings and talking to neighbours. As environmental stewardship, intensive management and resistant weeds are all concerns, options are staggering. It seems as though everyone wants a piece of your wallet. Here are some suggestions from the team at Clark Agri on how to prioritize investments for 2019.

1. ROI – Everyone seems to throw this term around but few have actually sat down and crunched the numbers. This is critical. You need to know how a product or service is going to pay back before you buy it. While developments on the ag tech side are incredible not all of them are practical solutions yet. If purchasing a sensor you need to know how the information it records is going to drive on-farm decisions. Otherwise you might just be buying another cool toy. It is worth noting that some things may not show an immediate return (eg cover crops, no till or zone management). In this case find a way to benchmark progress over multiple years either through organic matter, yield, soil tests etc. Be prepared that not every year will be a successful one.

2. Soil Sampling – This should be a no brainer, yet I am always surprised how many farmers are buying inputs without them. That’s like purchasing the lumber for a project before you make a design plan to figure out how much you need. You could either be shorting yourself material or spending way too much money. These days there are no excuses. Don’t have time? We can come out and take the sample for you. Concerned about cost? If you save yourself 10 lbs of fertilizer per acre you have already paid for the average soil test. Keep in mind while zone samples are a great solution for farmers looking to manage fields more intensively, they are not a requirement for everyone. Make sure you have a plan to use the information you are paying for.

3. Weed Control –  University of Guelph Scientists can now calculate yield loss due to weeds by the hour in the early stages of a corn or soybean crop. To combat this chemical companies have spent millions of dollars in research to develop practical and effective means of control. You support that research when you purchase their products. You cannot expect a newly registered product to cost the same as one that has been off patent for almost 20 years. So yes, chemicals that combat glyphosate resistant weeds are going to cost more. But with 50% yield loss at risk we should not be arguing over $10-15 per acre.  An effective weed control program is not always the cheapest one – it is the one that gains bushels and reduces pest pressure for years to come.

4. Zone Management – Not all zones are created equally. In the same way, the data layers you use to create zones are just as important. Find a way to determine whether you are generating applicable results or pretty pictures. For example, Clarks has partnered with Veritas Farm Management to analyze field prescriptions so that we can go back and see how close to the optimal fertilizer or seeding rate we got, and adjust to achieve greater success the following year. When used correctly, zone management is a great way to increase profit and allocate resources on farm.

If you are looking for a second opinion when considering your investment options for 2019 please contact your local agronomist or call the office at 905-386-6293.

This Crop Corner has been written by Johanna Lindeboom,  CCA,  Sales Agronomist at Clark Agri Service.

Johanna can be reached by email: jlindeboom@clarkagriservice.com or by phone 289-925-6828