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Maximize 2011 Investments In Crop Inputs

Maximize 2011 Investments In Crop Inputs

Even though fertilizer is higher priced this year, few investments offer the level of return of fertilizer when soil tests show it needs to be applied. Agronomists note that you must hold the line on crop production costs, but they also point out you don't want to short yourself on yield.

As corn growers know too well, surviving today's highly competitive economic environment depends upon investing wisely in areas that provide a positive return. And with corn prices moving up and up, and global demand for grains increasing, corn production is no different. As growers plan for 2011, they must balance the choice between minimizing input investment to protect their cash expenditure and maximizing profit through higher yields.

That's no simple task, when the two are so intertwined. In corn production, fertility is responsible for about 40% of the crop's yield, based on a number of university studies. And, fertilizer is proven to provide growers a positive return on their investment.

"For 2011, growers can't afford not to apply phosphorus and potassium," says Dan Froehlich, agronomist with The Mosaic Company, a major supplier of phosphate and potash fertilizer. "Soil test trends reported recently by the International Plant Nutrient Institute indicate soil test levels for P and K continue to fall, likely causing a negative impact on yields."

Look at your return per dollar spent per acre for fertilizer on corn

"With the price adjustments we've seen to fertilizer and grain prices during the past year, the return on investment growers will receive for fertilizer is actually in line with levels from 2006 and 2007," Froehlich points out. "It's not too late for growers to work with their local fertilizer dealer to understand the importance of providing balanced crop fertility. You need to look at nutrient interaction and soil nutrient levels in order to apply the proper nutrition that will maximize crop production and, ultimately, yields."

The chart below demonstrates the dollar return per dollar spent per acre for the fertilizer investment on corn each year since 2008 (Click here to download image).

And, to calculate the return from fertilizing their own corn crop, growers can use the following formulas.

Dollar return per dollar invested = (0.40 x yield x new crop price) divided by cost of fertilizer

Fertilizer cost per bushel = fertilizer cost per acre divided by yield

Bushels needed to pay for investment in fertilizer = fertilizer cost per acre divided by new crop price per bushel

These corn fertilizer costs are based on budgets from Iowa State University for corn following soybeans and that's assuming a yield of 180 bushels per acre and application rates of 140 pounds of nitrogen, 70 pounds of phosphate and 55 pounds of potash per acre. See Fertilizer Economics at for details of this analysis.

Agronomy resources available to help growers make decisions

The Mosaic Company offers a wealth of agronomy resources to growers, including the new 2011 Balanced Crop Nutrition Guide, which you can find online at That website is dedicated to providing agronomy information to growers and to others in the crop production industry. For more of this helpful crop production information, visit

The Mosaic Company is one of the world's leading producers and marketers of concentrated phosphate and potash crop nutrients. Mosaic is a single-source provider of phosphates and potash fertilizers and feed ingredients for the global agriculture industry. Information on the company is at

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