8th Annual Benchmark Study: No-Tillers Trim Fertilizer Costs

No-tillers intend to cut back even more on fertility this year by using less nitrogen for corn, but they plan an increase in fertilizer for soybeans.

When it comes to yearly farm expenses, fertilizer is always one of the big-ticket items — sometimes the largest. But after seeing a slight cutback on fertilizer expenses in 2014, No-Till Farmer readers stayed under their estimated budget of $80,235, spending an average of $75,555 for fertilizer per farm in 2015.

That amount is almost $10,000 less than the $85,513 spent in 2014. The reduction also brought fertilizer spending on a per-acre level down about $7 from $73.28 in 2014 to $65.93 in 2015.

Results from the 8th annual No-Till Operational Benchmark Survey indicate no-tillers plan to cut back even more on fertilizer in 2016 by another $6,617 per farm, for an average fertilizer budget of $68,938 ($60.15 per acre).

Less ‘N’ for Corn

The planned fertilizer savings will likely come from nitrogen (N), as readers intend to use less per bushel of corn this year than in previous years.

In 2015, 46% planned to use 0.8-0.99 pounds N per bushel for their targeted corn yields, followed by 39% using 1.0-1.2 pounds N per bushel. This year, only 32% of no-tillers will apply N in the range of 1.0-1.2 pounds per bushel, while half will aim between 0.8-0.99 pounds N per bushel. (See Figure 1.)

The percent of no-tillers applying less than 0.8 pounds N per bushel increased by 3 points, to 15% for 2016. Just like 2015, only 3% plan to use more than 1.2 pounds N per bushel.


Liquid 28% is the top N source for the 2016…

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Laura allen

Laura Barrera

Laura Barrera is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. Prior to joining No-Till Farmer, she served as an assistant editor for a greenhouse publication. Barrera holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Ball State University.

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