Sharpen Your Pencil Under Today’s Volatile Economics

It’s a good time to evaluate land, machinery, labor, grain storage and marketing as part of a yearly cropping systems budget review.

Recent volatility in our grain markets and large increases in input costs will again encourage us to evaluate our cropping systems budgets.

During this winter season, take some time to break out your costs and determine how they fit into your cropping enterprises. Outline several small tasks you can work on to tackle this project. Generally, taking inventory of several areas of the farm can help you through this process.

Land Evaluations

Take a close look at your land base, productivity, condition and value. Try to categorize your land base into groups of fields by the following criteria: owned or rented; high, medium or low yield productivity; and optimum or low soil test levels.

This matrix of field groups will help you to better understand the yield potential of your farmland and the fertilizer needs for your no-till system. With high fertilizer prices, now may be the time to apply nutrients on areas of the farm where there is definitely a return rather than trying to build soil tests.

Machinery Inventory

Try to list the machinery you have, their values and their relative uses in each enterprise in your farming operation.

Make sure that you apportion out tractor and combine hours to each crop. This information will give you a handle on the total machine costs you have for each cropping enterprise so you can determine an average yearly cost for machinery operations with each crop.

You may also want to break out repairs for each machine. With newer machinery…

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Leverich_jim

Jim Leverich

Jim Leverich no-tills near Sparta, Wis., and serves as an onfarm research coordinator for the University of Wisconsin.

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