Growers are wondering where to cut production costs in 2015. During this year's Commodity Classic, the University of Kentucky gave a presentation and said farmers need to do two things:
1) Use appropriate soil-applied fertilizers based on soil test.
2) Use highly effective weed control, which probably includes a soil residual herbicide.
Everyone at the presentation agreed these are probably two things many farmers will cut this year.
A representative soil test is the best indicator for what the field needs to produce soybeans. If a soil is deficient, lime and soil-applied fertilizers based on a soil test help insure that soybeans will not lack for nutrients. On the flip side, a soil test may indicate that no additional fertilizer is needed in a particular field. If a soil test suggests no fertilizer needed, then that guideline results in huge savings without impacting yield.
Weeds are one of the major things that reduce soybean yields each year. In a year like 2015, some producers will be tempted to try to sneak by with a single post-emergence herbicide timing. They may be tempted to let some weeds get big so that others will germinate and all can be controlled with a single pass. This practice almost always costs more in yield loss than what was spent on a second herbicide application. Getting weeds removed before they compete with the soybean crop will help maintain high yield potential. In addition, letting some weeds escape this year only results in more problems next year.
Growers should focus on adequate fertility based on a representative soil test and excellent weed control. Both are critical to high yields. There are plenty of other places where a grower can save a few dollars in 2015 production costs.