Maximizing Fertility Investments and ROI on Your Farm in a Down Corn Market
29 Jan 2422m 42s

In the challenging agricultural landscape of 2024, where every dollar counts, it's crucial for farmers to rethink their fertilizer application strategies. AgroLiquid's expert, Galynn Beer, warns that adhering to standard fertilizer application recommendations could potentially lead to a loss of $100 per acre given the average yield. This insight comes as part of a vital discussion on fertility tactics in a market facing declining crop prices, hosted by XtremeAg's Damian Mason and Kelly Garrett.

As a farm manager, your role becomes even more significant in times of economic pressure. The key question is: How can you sustain soil health, achieve satisfactory yields, and still ensure financial stability? This discussion offers practical and effective methods for farmers to optimize their fertility investments. Tune in to learn about these strategies and safeguard your farm's profitability in today's tough commodity market.

This episode of Cutting The Curve is Presented by CLAAS.

00:00 We're heading into a cheaper commodity price environment. That's right. What you produce is gonna sell 00:06 for less in 2024. So how do you maximize your fertility investment in a sub $5 corn environment or sub $12 bean 00:14 environment, whatever that should be. That's what we're talking about in this episode of Extreme Mascot in the Curve. 00:22 Welcome to Extreme ags Cutting the Curve podcast, where real farmers share real insights and real results to help you improve your farming operation. 00:31 This episode of Cutting the Curve is brought to you by cloth where machines aren't just made, they're made for more 00:37 with a wide range of tractors, combines, foragers and hay tools. Cloth is a family business just as driven, demanding, 00:45 and dedicated as yours. Go to and start cutting your curve with their cutting edge equipment. 00:50 And now here's your host, Damien Mason. Hey there. Welcome to another fantastic episode of Extreme Ice, cutting the Curb. 00:57 We got Galen Beer from Agro Liquid, and I got Kelly Garrett, one of the founders of Extreme Ag, and we're talking about some harsh realities. 01:03 Commodity prices are gonna be down. It looks like it's, we, we've been predicting now for about a year that 2024 is gonna be the year 01:11 of adjusting downward in terms of farm revenue. If that's the case, how can you keep your head above water and keep your fields 01:18 and your crops driving with cheaper commodity prices, maximizing your fertility investment in a sub $5 or sub $12 bean sub $5 corn environment? 01:28 That's what we're talking about. Galen, you kind of proposed this subject and I like it. It plays right into stuff that we talk about, about 01:35 spoonfeeding, about, uh, times of critical intervention in the plant, et cetera, versus just being, you know, nilly willy-nilly and going 01:45 and flinging a bunch of, uh, fertilizer out there that may or may not get utilized. Is that really the trick? 01:50 Yeah. That you're, uh, alluding to exactly what we gotta be looking at this coming year. Damian, I, I did a, uh, cash flow 01:58 or a profitability analysis for 200 bushel of the acre corn in, in the corn belt. And, you know, 8% is about all the room guys have left. 02:08 And we talk about, uh, you'll hear us talk about occasionally that a good recommendation is sort of art, 02:14 and that's, that's looking at your profitability picture, your agronomics and your economics 02:20 and all those kind of have to come together with your experience to make that recommendation this year. And being very, um, strategic with your, 02:31 uh, you know, your spend is going to be smart. We're gonna have to get the scalpel out a little bit. I think, 02:37 Kelly, you and I talked about this a couple of different times, but I've been hearing it since I was a child. 02:42 Oh, those people are gonna come in. They're, they're, they're big farmers. They're gonna pay a bunch of cash rent 02:47 and they're gonna mine the soil. They're gonna just rape your ground. You said two years ago, I'm gonna dispel that myth. 02:54 I, I don't really think that happens. And, and I think that that's more coffee shop talk anyway, and you and I both agree, 03:00 but then there's the other reality that, you know, flinging a bunch of fertilizer out there maybe wasn't the opposite of raping the ground anyhow. 03:11 It might have been washing away, it might be going through the water table. So really being more judicious where fertility 03:18 happened a couple years ago when fertilizer prices spiked, and then it made us realize that maybe we were, 03:25 we were unnecessarily using fertilizer that wasn't getting to the plant anyhow. 03:29 So I kind of think that's where this whole theme goes with what our topic is today. 03:35 I agree. Uh, the idea that somebody comes and rapes the soil. Now, when I say that, that is in my geography 03:43 with the Iowa soil that again, Chad and Temple and Matt, give me a hard time about that. What happens here is the soil is out of balance. 03:52 And some of the reason that the soil gets put out of balance is, is because of that dry spreader. 03:58 It, it steers things in the wrong direction sometimes, in my opinion, and again, when I, how I define balance is base saturation. 04:07 So if you don't pay attention to your base saturation, your calcium, magnesium levels, things like that, or you're not aware of it, it, it continues to amaze me 04:16 how many growers don't understand what base saturation is. It should be your number one yield limiting factor. 04:22 And if you have worked on that and you have tried to do your best to keep your soil balanced, it's not a black 04:27 and white issue, but it, you know, it's a, there's a gray area there and, uh, varying degrees of success if you have worked on 04:35 that and then you go into a, a season like this, I would ray way rather live off of my balanced soil and cut out this year's spend on dry fertility 04:45 and stick with my liquid program because you're gonna see a bigger ROI that I would not cut the liquid program first. 04:51 I would cut the dry program first. By The way, I think there's the soundbite, there's the soundbite that I think is a good one 04:58 for the season. It's also when you're talking about the balancing of the economics, 'cause I think you got, 05:02 you're balancing plant balancing soil and balancing the economics. That's what the cool part here is. 05:06 This is gonna be a theme for us this season, I think. Uh, but also I think Galen got just a little bit giddy right there 05:15 if you're gonna cut out fertility, cut out the bulk dry stuff, not the liquid stuff. And I think giddy, I think, I think 05:21 he, he didn't just get giddy. I think that like he, he, he, he, like, he, he, it was like He did seem to perk up a little bit. 05:30 He did seem tok up a little bit. I was watching him when I said it, and I'm not trying to advertise for Aquid. 05:35 It's true. If you want, you know, I would challenge everyone listening to this. You go out and go out on 160 acre farm 05:42 and put your dry fertility on half and put your liquid fertility on half you, you, you shouldn't continue to do that for the rest of your life, 05:49 but do that one time and you tell me what has the better yield, I'll, I'll, I'll make a healthy bet with you. 05:54 Everybody knows I like to gamble. I know, know what's gonna win. I'll be on the liquid side. I'm not gonna play poker 06:00 because apparently I, I can't hide my exuberance here. So I won't make that bet with you, Kelly. But I I, you make a great point here. 06:11 Um, you know, if you've managed well, and that's what we hope guys are doing, I think we've reached that point. 06:19 This is a type of year to stop and not just pull out your soul test and look and say, oh, it says I need 15 pounds of zinc sulfate. 06:29 I'm going to go apply it. We need our pencil out with that. And to Kelly's point, 06:36 strategic placement might be the key this year. Some zinc in that starter program, some zinc in a strip-till program or even a y drop program. 06:44 And that's kinda what we're talking about is let's, let's challenge ourselves to stop and think a little bit about our options 06:51 and be strategic when it comes to crop nutrition. I like the whole topic because it, first off I said the balance of three things, 07:02 soil, plant, and economics and all this is talk about sustainability. We say it all the time here at extreme ag. 07:08 Well, there's no sustain sustainable if you're broke, you know, if you're, if you're a farming operation, there's nothing, there's nothing sustainable 07:14 about being out of business. And this is an important time. It's been a little easier the last couple years, 07:19 and I'm not being mean, but it's been a little easier to, to, you didn't have to be as judicious 07:25 with your spend when you had good commodity prices and good yields. Now you've gotta really start thinking about this. 07:31 So what's the first consideration? Kelly says, uh, don't, don't cut back on the liquid. Is there anything else? What, what am I doing also 07:38 to maximize my fertility investment? Uh, Kelly, Uh, what we do is variable rate, you know, uh, variable rate nitrogen with our anhydrous, you know, 07:49 variable rate seeding, putting what fertility we we need to wear, you know, and, 07:53 and again, you know, the reason I talk about cutting out that, that dry program in a tighter year is 07:58 because if you have worked on your soil in, in years of good prices and good margins and things like that, your soil will sustain a year of two 08:08 of, of living off that savings account, if you will. But your, but your crop will not live without, you know, if you're trying to raise, you're an intensive managed 08:17 grower and you're trying to raise those extra bushels and create that extra margin that is created from the liquid program, from the full, 08:23 I don't even wanna say liquid, but because I I wanna say foliar program would be a more, uh, uh, the spoon feeding program you have, that's 08:31 where the extra bushels and the extra margin come from, and you'd be making a mistake if you cut that out, in my opinion. 08:37 You meet with somebody, Len, you talk to farmers all the time. You're your, your geography is huge. 08:43 We just talked about you're up in Canada, you've, you've, you yourself farm in Oklahoma. 08:47 I don't know why they don't get any rain there. I mean, tumbleweeds don't need fertilizer anyway. You've got a pretty big footprint. 08:55 The one thing that's a constant is they're all dealing with the same commodity, uh, markets. So tell me, kind of take us down the road 09:03 and when you say, Hey, I want you to still be in business, you can be a customer five years from now, um, to do that, 09:09 I'm gonna help you maximize your fertility investment. Gimme like the one, two, and three of that no matter 09:14 where you are, geography, you know, whatever. Yes. Yep, yep, yep. And, and, and trust me, the, uh, 09:20 it's gonna be different everywhere. And so, uh, and the extreme ag guys are good at this. Number one, get an inventory of what you already have. 09:28 That's through a soil test. Number two, make sure that we, uh, are understanding what crop is being grown 09:36 because, uh, certain crops have, uh, biases towards certain nutrients. In other words, you'll get a better bang for your buck out 09:45 of some nutrients than, uh, so corn loves zinc and boron doesn't mean we ignore, uh, manganese and iron and copper, but they drop down the priority list. 09:56 Whereas, um, if you talk soybeans, manganese and iron better rise to the top of the list. And if you're looking at wheat, you're gonna have manganese 10:06 and iron and sulfur rising to the top of that list. And so this is a type of year that perfect might not be achievable. 10:15 Let's prioritize and rank order what we need and then we can start establishing our spend accordingly. Toil test crop planted. 10:26 The third thing then was what's, what's the, the, Was understanding the, uh, crop nutrient biases and prioritizing those, 10:41 Do you start then, you know, if you look at the family budget, uh, you start saying, okay, here's the, I'm gonna cut this, I'm gonna cut that. 10:48 Do you think farmers are going through that? It sounds like they are. Kelly said, all right, maybe you got some stuff in the bank. 10:52 You can cut this. Where, where does the cut, where, you know, Kelly says the last thing to cut is the liquid program. 10:58 Do, do we just cut bulk altogether? Do we, do we cut bulk by 10%? Do we cut it completely? Kind of walk me through how if you were sitting down 11:06 with the checkbook, how you would start going about the the the budgeting. Go ahead gi which yeah, yeah, yeah. 11:17 For me, and then Kelly can chime in. Uh, he talks about balance. I I'm not gonna, I'm might not eliminate 11:23 books spreading altogether. I mean, there's a, a spot for dry spread of potash in order to balance a soil like Cal, uh, 11:31 Kelly has mentioned. I view it as an amin a soil amendment in that capacity, but I am, I am going to sit down 11:39 and say, is is it right for my situation? And so you also have to look at your resources available on your time management. 11:48 In a perfect world, I think guys can do a tremendous job with a sound liquid program to get them through this year 11:56 because it delays those decisions a little bit. Let you see, lets you see if commodity prices might blip up here, um, you can delay that zinc application 12:05 until you get into planting time or even, uh, wide drop time or side dress time. 12:11 Whereas if you're gonna do a bulk spread, that decision needs to be made now. Yeah. So that's, that's the, uh, Kelly, 12:18 I was just thinking about the timing of that bulk stuff, uh, happens generally fall, fall, winter, maybe early spring. 12:24 Yep. Um, some of the stuff we can still be making, we've just, we've recorded, you and I have recorded about deciding on the last pass, you 12:32 and me and Galen I think, or Temple and Galen and I have recorded about that. You can just, you can still make decisions mid-season, 12:40 late season on some of the stuff like their products. But, and you can do that based on what the yield looks like, what the weather's giving you, 12:48 and what the commodity prices maybe have moved to. So kind of the budget decisions also are a point in time decision. 12:58 They are. And that's, that's part of the reason that the dry spread gets kept and the foli year part gets cut out. 13:04 You get to July and August, um, it's a poor time of year. You, you've spent a lot of your line of credit. 13:11 It might be dry out or the, you know, the, the board of trade might not look as attractive, things like that. 13:16 So it takes a very forward thinking individual to decide in October or November, I'm gonna cut out the dry 13:23 or I'm gonna reduce the dry and stick with my foliar. Um, in other areas, I, you know, like what Galen talked about, keeping the potash other areas 13:32 of the country where he's at in Oklahoma, where Chad's at, things like that. I, um, you know, he doesn't want to cut out some of 13:39 that dry, I understand here, you know, uh, the top six inches of my soil has 4,400 pounds of K. What I need to do is work to make it become available. 13:48 The idea that I need to put on a hundred pounds of oh oh 60 every year, I don't think it's needed. You know, and we need to pay attention. 13:55 There's other areas there, other customers and people I work here with my plant food business that we look at the base saturation, 14:02 they'll have 500 parts per million of, of k. It's just not available because the base saturation's off. So if we work to balance that soil, 14:11 they've got a huge savings account of fertility there, and we can put that, put those dollars when they're a little tighter in another 14:20 area to try to widen out those margins. I like this topic right here because, and, and it's not, all right, Galen, this goes to you. 14:28 It's, you're not in any way nitpicking or criticizing, but when things are, it's the old thing, you know, look at companies, look at everybody, 14:36 look at family budgets, whatever. When things are flush, you get a little sloppy. Where do you think a farming operation 14:43 could easily pull back some furl? They've, they've done some things are unnecessary. Kelly just mentioned the potassium thing. 14:49 If you're dumping out a, a high potassium, uh, product, it's unnecessary in his, in his situation. Where do you think in general there's some bat to be chewed, 15:01 uh, at the farm, farm fertility program? I, I, I think, uh, definitely when it comes to applying phosphorus and micronutrients, I think there's, uh, 15:12 some big gains that can be, had, had to help you through this. And that's why being, uh, careful with your applications, 15:18 abandoning those nutrients for, they're very accessible to the plant. So I think a starter strip till side dress two by two, 15:27 I think those are things guys can approach this year. And the other thing guys, you know, in agriculture we don't think about this a lot, 15:35 but money costs more today. So if you go back and you're gonna dry spread and you're gonna dry spread in November, 15:42 the interest clock probably started ticking on you then. Well, if you could get by with banding, phosphorus 15:48 and zinc on corn, uh, when you plant, uh, in a two by two or in furrow, okay, well I just bought myself, uh, 15:57 six months less interest. And those are the little things that we're not conditioned to think about that we can think about this 16:05 year or should think about. Well, I heard right there, first off the Kelly example of your, you were putting out stuff 16:11 'cause the co-op was willing to sell it to you, but you absolutely didn't need it. Like the potassium situation for Kelly, that's, 16:16 that's an accurate statement, right, Kelly? That you right. Somebody, a retailer, and it's not 'cause they're mean, it's just 'cause of what they do. 16:22 It's probably because it's they're standard package, you didn't need it, so you're buying stuff you didn't need. Uh, Yale's got a point of you could probably start, uh, 16:31 more judicially or more at point of time applying stuff. I guess what I'm hearing right there and uh, consideration 16:37 besides just the buying of the product is the cost of the money at 8% or not. I farm credit just sent me a thing, tells me 16:44 that their operating line is 9.6, so if I can hold off on using 9.6% money, uh, from what spring until later in the summer, 16:55 that's, that's four months of Yep. Anything we missed on maximizing fertility investment in a sub $5 corn or sub $12 soybean environment? 17:05 Is there anything we Ms. Kelly, you're, you're always about the money and you, you willingly admit agronomics, uh, 17:11 you've got Evans as your agronomic guy, you're, you're a B plus at agronomics, but an A but an a at the, at the business side of it, 17:19 you I think willingly admit that. What is it that you're hearing from Evans? What's he saying about your fertility investment? 17:27 Evans has been looking for any fat that we can trim because of the, the money side, you know, and in, in areas of great mar in times of great margin, 17:37 that's when we should be taking advantage of that extra margin and looking for what works and what doesn't work. 17:43 Because the only thing that's certain is it's gonna come around and get tied again. Um, I would tell you, you know, 17:49 the last couple years we've done a lot of nitrogen trials. We've done a lot of fertility studies, 17:53 obviously with extreme ag. The big, you know, I, if I could touch on what the question you have for Galin, 17:58 the biggest two biggest areas of fat here are nitrogen. Uh, people put on too much anhydrous in my opinion, based on our trials, we had a, 18:07 a zero sixty, one, twenty, a hundred eighty, and 240 pounds of anhydrous. I'll tell you zero was by far the worst, 18:14 but 60 pounds of anhydrous all the way up to two 40. You know what the yield difference was from top to bottom about five bushel. 18:21 And, and so the, the 60 bushel, the 60 pounds of anhydrous was by far, was by far the most profitable. The other area of fat that needs to be trimmed 18:32 or needs to be looked at is the, uh, the application of the dry p and k doesn't mean we don't need it, but if you're not addressing those base saturation concerns, 18:41 mother nature is tying up that phosphorus and pushing that K out. You know, I've, that's what I referenced. 18:47 I've, I've seen people with 500 parts per million of, of K, but it's not available. And they, and their plants will show potassium deficiency 18:55 and they have continue to put on K, you've got extra there, it's not available because your base saturation is two 19:01 instead of 4% percent. Um, that there's a lot of fat that can be trimmed right there because you're not addressing the, the needs in the right priority. 19:10 Caitlyn, he says that nitrogen gets, uh, is a fat to be trimmed because it's generally over applied. I think we can all agree on that a lot. 19:16 Oftentimes phosphorus phosphates have been as well over a yeah, over historically. And then also making sure that you've, the stuff you have 19:23 that you're getting it accessible. Uh, what else do you add to that when you're talking about ways that, uh, 19:30 a grower can maximize fertility investment in this kind of environment? Well, I think, I think, you know, when, uh, 19:36 when you know anyone goes to a doctor, they think the doctor, the authority, whatever the doctor says they do, 19:42 and sometimes as growers, where that way when we get that soil test result back, it says on the bottom, put 250 pounds of nitrogen, a hundred pounds 19:50 of phosphorus, whatever. And we just think, well, hey, they're the authority. We do it. I did that on a Midwest soil test the other day 19:59 and, uh, just plugged in the cost of that with that $5 corn and 200 bushels per acre and it was a minus 100 profit. 20:07 And I don't think any of us want a minus 100 profit. And that's where guys can't just show, take that up to the co-op and drop it off 20:15 and say, Hey, that's what it says I need. That's what I've gotta do. We gotta think these things through. 20:21 Uh, do I wanna put out 200 pounds of nitrogen, 1 60, 1 50? Sometimes that'll work for me. 20:28 We just have to think about this a little bit more differently this year. Kelly nodded his head. You can get outta here on that. 20:36 I like it right there. Because the point is, yeah, this is some alleged expert recommendation. Well, there's also the recommendation of you've got a, 20:45 you've got the, you've got the obligation to remain solvent. And that's what I'm hearing there. Yeah, 20:51 Exactly. Kelly, what else? You got anything? Is that it? No, I mean, we really need to pay attention 20:57 to our bottom lines this year. We need to really think twice about the money we're spending and the priority we're putting on things. 21:05 And, uh, we, Damien or Galen hit it on the head. We don't wanna see any red, we wanna see green, we wanna see positives, not minuses. 21:14 Yeah, I like the fact that when he just said he took the basic recommendation for a Midwestern operation 21:18 and end up losing you $100 an acre. So if that's what you want to do, follow the recommendation. Otherwise, yes, otherwise get, otherwise listen to this and, 21:27 and make some critical decisions and some critical analysis based on that. That's why we're here to extreme Ag Farm GA 21:33 and beer from Agro Liquid. If you wanna learn more, go to aggro If you want to find out more from all 21:40 of our discussions about fertilizer, we have literally hundreds of videos just like this, hundreds of podcasts cutting the curve. 21:45 Also videos that these guys shoot in the field. You wanna take your learning to the next level, become an extreme Ag member for $750 a year. 21:52 You can get direct access to people like Kelly to go a little deeper on a topic. You also get access to the data from all the trials 21:57 that we do, and you get some, uh, some special exclusive content. So, uh, consider doing that for the 2024. 22:04 A lot of people set resolutions. You know what, maybe your resolution should be to become, uh, up your game in 2024. 22:10 You can do that, being an extreme AG member. Till next time, thanks for being here. He's Galen Beer and he's Kelly Garrett. I'm Damien Mason. 22:18 That's a wrap for this episode of Cutting the Curve. Make sure to check out Extreme for more great content to help you squeeze more profit out 22:27 of your farming operation. Cutting the curve is brought to you by cloth where machines aren't just made, they're made for more. 22:34 Visit and start cutting your curve with cutting edge equipment.

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