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First Step in Developing 2015 Crop Budget: Assess Benefits of 'Extras'

First Step in Developing 2015 Crop Budget: Assess Benefits of 'Extras'
If you're looking for places to cut farm costs, consultants recommend starting on the extras.

The problem for 2015 crop and profit projections is that as you enter the yearly planning cycle, there aren't any great pricing opportunities on the board. Some were able to sell ahead in 2014 and still maintain a reasonable average price for grain. That opportunity isn't in play yet for 2015.

The result is that many are looking hard at their budgets, and asking others for help in finding place where perhaps they could shave off costs.

Jeff Nagel, Lafayette, an agronomist with Ceres Solutions, is one of the people farmers ask. He's also an Indiana Certified Crop Consultant.

Take a close look at extras: Jeff Nagel says it's time to make sure the basics are covered for 2015 before investing in things that you think might help.

One place you can look is at what Nagel calls extra inputs. "Review your plan to see if any inputs have been added that are questionable on return on investment," he says. He offers an example.

Suppose you have been foliar feeding crops because you think it might help. You might want to rethink it unless you have established a need for foliar feeding through tissue testing during the season, he notes.

Betsy Bower, also with Ceres Solutions and a CCA, says there are definitely places where foliar applications pay. She works with several farmers on irrigated fields in west-central Indiana. Many of those fields are sandy to somewhat sandy. She helps them do routine tissue testing during the growing season.

Related: 5 Things You Don't Want to Do Because Corn Prices are Low

Often, testing will show up a need for a particular nutrient, sometimes a micro-nutrient. Adding it either through foliar application or through irrigation water can boost yield, and more than pay for the cost of the nutrient and application.

What Nagel is referring to are situations where you don't have that kind of testing and knowledge to back you up. Applying something because you think it might help may be a luxury you decide you can't afford in times of tight budgets.

Look for articles tabbed "Crop Input Guide 2015" in upcoming issues of Indiana Prairie Farmer for ideas on how to assess crop inputs for 2015.

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