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As no-tillers tightened their belts even more in 2016 due to continued low crop prices, fertilizer took one of the biggest hits.
Readers who participated in the 9th annual No-Till Operational Benchmark Study spent an average $55,419 on fertilizer in 2016, over $20,000 less from the $75,555 spent in 2015 — a 26.7% decrease. This brought their per-acre cost on fertilizer from $65.93 in 2015 to $48.07 last year.
Results from last year’s study indicate readers didn’t expect to cut as much from their fertilizer as they did. Last year, growers estimated they’d spend $68,938 on fertilizer, or $60.15 per acre.
It doesn’t look like this downward trend will change. This year, no-tillers on average are planning to cut another $4,234 in fertilizer costs, for a budget of $51,185, or $44.39 per acre. If they plan to meet that budget or stay under it, no-tillers will have cut their fertilizer budget by at least 40% from the $85,153 average spent just 3 years ago in 2014.
Despite the drastic cutbacks, corn fertilizer practices generally remained unchanged from 2015.
Once again, half of no-tillers (50.4%) will apply 28% nitrogen (N) to their corn crop this year, slightly down from the 51.3% who used the source in 2016.
Another 37.2% will apply 32% N, up just over 2 points from 2015, while 26.7% will apply urea, up just over 4 points from 22.6%. Another 24.7% will use anhydrous ammonia (down from 27.6%), while 3.8% will apply ammonium nitrate (down from…