I just read a story about how expensive ice cream has become this summer. The price of a gallon of milk is up 55% the story reports. The price of a small cone has rose from $2.95 to $3.50.
So what does the price of ice cream have to do with soil? I'm getting to that!
The story claims that this is due to the rising price of corn used to feed dairy cows. I don’t doubt that the cost of feed is more expensive, but the cost of fuel, fertilizer, and any other inputs in farming are also up. It’s a vicious cycle, where the farmer rarely wins. It seems impossible to cut costs when the price of finished goods doubles overnight.
How does one combat increasing input costs, and volatile prices?
Focus on the things you can control.
A study by the Iowa Soybean Association compared the increased profit per acre on many Iowa farms. They found that 50% of their increased profit came from increasing yield. While it is hard to control the price of ice cream it is far easier to manage your crops to increase yields.
It starts with the soil.
It does no good to plant the best Triple Stack seed corn if you do not take care of your soil. According to Midwest Labs, low pH (5.7) will reduce the genetic yield potential of corn by 17%. That’s 34 bushels on 200-bushel farm average! Even if corn were still 2 bucks at least $60 would be lost before planting begins. With today’s prices that’s over $100 dollars in profit lost per acre.
You could spend all that profit applying AgLime and waiting 3-5 years for a return on that money. Another option is to do nothing, cut your losses, and blame poor profitability on falling prices and the rising costs of inputs.
The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!