Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Increasing the Efficiency of Your Acres

We all realize that no two farms are the same and there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to farming.

But what if we take that further? No two acres are the same. So maybe there shouldn’t be a one-crop-fits-all approach to managing acres within a farm or field.

Recent record high corn and soybean prices have caused many farmers to transition pasture acres into crops. But now that prices have retreated, is that really the most economical use of those acres?

Turns out, it might not be. With current commodity prices, significant portions of Iowa farmland may be consistently losing money, according to a recent study by Iowa State University agronomists.

The fact may be masked by the effects of crop insurance and the higher grain prices over the past few years, but the bottom line is that some acres aren’t making money. They’re losing money due to fertilizer costs, equipment costs, herbicide, and seed costs on acres that only yield 70 bu per acre while their counterparts chase after 200.

Dave Muth of AgSolver, an Ames-based company, is poised to help. By gathering publicly available data, AgSolver has projected profit results on acres across Iowa and helped farmers make better management decisions to recoup some of those losses. Around 6.2 million acres of Iowa farmland, which is 27 percent of the land devoted to row crops, is estimated to have lost $100 or more per acre in 2015.

That doesn’t mean those acres should simply be taken out of production, but they may need to be managed differently via fewer inputs or a transition into forage production.

Dave Muth of AgSolver will be at all four of ICA’s regional BeefMeets this summer to discuss more strategies to identify and revitalize your least productive acres using data from precision agriculture.

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