Wallaces Farmer

Think ROI with fungicides

Increased yield claims don’t tell the whole story.

Gil Gullickson, editor of Wallaces Farmer

May 24, 2024

1 Min Read
THINK ROI: Fungicides are a product that can boost yields, but they also have a cost that needs to be taken into account. Gil Gullickson

“More bushels per acre” is a claim often touted about a product such as fungicide. Still, that’s just part of the story.

“We often don’t think about what it costs,” says Alison Robertson, Iowa State University Extension plant pathologist.

That’s why Robertson wanted to measure return on investment — in addition to yield in 2023 fungicide trials across six ISU research and demonstration farms.

Meaghan Anderson, ISU Extension field agronomist, assisted Robertson with assigning costs of fungicide application costs that included:

  • A corn price on November 30, 2023, of $4.48 per bushel.

  • A product cost of $8.50 per acre.

  • Application via ground costs of $10 per acre and $11 per acre by air. Both applications occurred between the VT (tassel) and R1 growth stages.

Stressors in these trials included corn rootworm infestations and bacterial leaf streak. However, fungal disease severity that fungicides could have alleviated was low due to drought at all locations.

Fungicides did increase yield, but yield spikes were mainly minimal and did not cover costs.

“If there was ever going to be a year to show that fungicides help with drought stress, this would have been it,” says Robertson. “But they [the applications] didn’t make any money last year.”

About the Author(s)

Gil Gullickson

editor of Wallaces Farmer, Farm Progress

Gil Gullickson grew up on a farm that he now owns near Langford, S.D., and graduated with an agronomy degree from South Dakota State University. Earlier in his career, he spent 13 years as a Farm Progress editor, covering Minnesota and the Dakotas.

Gullickson is a widely respected and decorated ag journalist, earning the Agricultural Communicators Network writing award for Writer of the Year three times, and winning Story of the Year four times. He is a past winner of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists’ Food and Agriculture Organization Award for Food Security. He has served as president of both ACN and the North American Agricultural Journalists.

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