Three Tips For Managing Crop Nutrition Costs In Permanent Crops During Tight Times

Growers can help cushion their farms from rising prices and falling incomes through data-driven management practices

Published online: Apr 22, 2024 Articles
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St. Johns, Mich. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that farming profits are predicted to fall in 2024. As growers look to balance expenses and outcomes, they may be tempted to cut inputs from their crop nutrition plan. But AgroLiquid’s Abe Isaak says farmers who use data to guide those decisions will prevent costly mistakes down the line.

He offers three tips for managing your crop nutrition budget in tight times. 

1. Think Twice Before Cutting Nutrition 

“It’s important to understand the crop nutrition you put down this year is also fertilizing next year’s crop,” says Isaak. “Cutting one year creates two years of problems that will continue to impact your crop another two to three years into the future.”

Isaak says instead growers should use a soil test to identify what’s missing from their soil, and potentially re-allocate a portion of their fertilizer budget to ensure applied nutrients are achieving peak efficiency. 

2. Build A Priority List Of Limiting Factors 

“Excess in one area of crop nutrition will create deficiency in another by crowding out other nutrients,” says Isaak. “If you see problems in one area of your orchard but another section is fine, don’t ignore it – it could be an early indicator something is off.” 

Isaak suggests identifying what nutrients may be limiting for your crop, and building out a priority list for those inputs. Moving some fall soil-applied nutrition to foliar can also help growers stay on top of nutrient needs without increasing costs. 

3. Identify Diminishing Returns 

“Adding large amounts of a nutrient can create an imbalance in the soil,” says Isaak. “Just because some is good doesn’t mean more is better.” Isaak notes the importance of applying micronutrients to help primary nutrients work better. “In most cases you don’t have to increase your budget to build micronutrients into your program. Let soil and tissue tests be your guide.”

Isaak recommends correlating tissue test data and zone and grid samples with yield maps to identify where nutrient inputs are making a difference in the field, then using that information to identify what inputs are worth the investment. 

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