Producers are concerned about making a profit on corn and soybeans this year in light of declining crop prices and steady input costs. Looking back over crop prices the past few years, the last time period that saw soybean prices similar to today was in 2009. But input costs have increased sharply since then. So what are producers to do?
Closely examining a budget, there just aren't a lot of areas that can be cut. Land costs, fertilizer and seed expenses are probably the three largest items. Although many are attempting to negotiate lower cash rental rates (and some successfully) not all are able to do so. Fertilizers have declined a little in cost, so that is one area of reduction. Seed costs have held stable from last year. In essence, many producers will be farming at a loss this year.
But in examining fertilizer expenses, you need to examine the economics of return on your dollar. Dr. Emerson Nafziger has been conducting nitrogen rate experiments for many years. His work is utilized to determine an economic rate of nitrogen return that we use in designing nitrogen rates. The N rate calculator can be found at: http://extension.agron.iastate.edu/soilfertility/nrate.aspx Plugging in anhydrous at $600 per ton and corn price at $3.60, using a corn/soybean rotation in central Illinois, the economic rate of nitrogen to apply is 166 pounds, with a range from 150# -180#.
Emerson will be presenting this topic as well as how tillage and rotations effect corn and soybean yield at our upcoming Western IL/ NE MO Notill/ Crop Management Conference, to be held on Friday, Feb. 5th at JWCC in Quincy. This is our 21st annual conference. We'll also have Dr. Mark Bernards from WIU addressing the new phenoxy herbicides; Pat Westhoff, U of MO FAPRI giving a price outlook, which he has done for several years now at the conference; Brent Clair will highlight his uses of drones and how they might work in your operation; Dick Lyons will cover the topic of cover crops to use in corn and soybean rotations. And we'll have our popular Farmers Panel.
In addition, there will be exhibitors available to answer questions you may have. Registration is $15 per person, which includes lunch and the morning refreshments. CCA hours are available. To register web.extension.illinois.edu/abhps