Just within the past few days I shared lunch with a farmer who says he’s going to hold out cutting back on fertilizer for one more year. He has an aggressive soil sampling program to keep him up to date on soil fertility levels. He knows that most of his soil test levels are adequate, and if they aren’t, he knows those deficient areas.
The flip side of that is if things don’t change economically in a year, he may have to reassess what he does about soil sampling and especially spreading fertilizer for 2017. He is in a solid financial position, but he wants to stay that way. The downturn in the market is already eating into his equity.
Maybe you are in that positon, or maybe you think 2016 is the year to draw on your soil fertility bank if you have good soil test levels. John Mackson, a crops consultant in Michigan and part of a group of consultants known as Denning & Associates, shares his views. It sounds like a primer in basic soil fertility, but then maybe this is the year to get back to basics.
“You have to think about soil fertility in the short-term and the long-term,” he says. And you need to have as much data as possible, especially soil test information, when you are making important decisions, he says.
“You can go on and do what you need to do to make money,” he says. “But you should also be asking yourself what are you going to need to do in the long term in terms of soil fertility. In other words, what practices are you going to need to follow long term so that your farm and crop production is sustainable over the long term. “
This is one of those years where that may be the very question you must ask. Mackson says that even so, you need to have a long-term strategy in mind.