Precision Ag Aids Fertilizer Programs

Whatever the farm economy may look like, retailers need to continue to develop a sound fertility program to reach the crop yields that farmers are budgeting for, says Paul Reising, Senior Product Manager of Micronutrients with Compass Minerals.

Advertisement

Many dealers are doing that with solid precision ag programs. Case in point is Mid Kansas Coop (MKC) in Moundridge, KS. The company provides a number of precision services, including customized fertilizer prescriptions and variable rate application. During better economic times, growers were signing on to MKC’s four- and eight-year soil nutrient build programs to get their soils back where they needed to be based on grid sampling. In fact, the firm’s precision ag acre numbers have grown dramatically over the last five years.

Recently, however, many customers are focusing strictly on fertilizer applications based on crop removal — replacing only the nutrients taken up by the previous crop.

“The larger, progressive guys are still following their multi-year plans, moving forward,” says Dave Spears, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “We can demonstrate in a lot of cases that you may use slightly less or the same amount of fertilizer you’re going to use anyway, but you’re getting it on the right acre, maximizing your return on investment in each acre.”

Indeed, Adam Day, Account Manager and CCA with Northern Partners Cooperative in Mendota, IL, believes — and many other stakeholders CropLife® contacted agreed — that the industry is focusing more on the 4R approach than ever. “I see more growers adopting these practices as we go into lower commodity prices,” he says.