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  • Aug14Tue

    Profit by the foot!

    Field Notes August 14, 2018 Jay Castleman, Specialty Crop Market Manager
    Filed Under:
    Agronomy, Opinion, Field Notes, 4Rs

    What if we started looking at generating our net profit by the foot rather than the acre? Sounds strange, I know it does especially for a science-based mind like mine; I’ve never been accused of having a great imagination!

    Of recent however, I have been attending meetings, conferences and even field days that seem to suggest a change in how we seek profit in the near future!  What if we began looking at the parity in production by the foot rather than the acre?

    Think about it! With all of the technology in nutrient testing and soil health, seed placement, positioning characteristics of genetic traits, the sophistication of our equipment… nowadays we can be prescriptive with nearly all features of production right down to the foot!

    We can take the layer of yield data and qualify our production opportunity by the foot. We can analyze our soil characteristics and soil health by the foot. We can assess the environment in which we are going to plant into very well, so why can’t we take advantage of this and apply our inputs to coordinate all aspects of production to produce the greatest outcome?

    Consider this... we know that practically every field has varying degrees of production opportunity, maximum yield potential with some greater than others. In fact, there may be some spots in the field that we shouldn’t even plant! We now have the technology on the planter to evaluate the soil on the fly and variable rate the nutrition based on demand and maximum opportunity. What if we did the same with our Crop Protection based on soil type or noted trouble spots? What if we positioned our seed population based on environment, soil characteristics and yield potential, even switch seed varieties on the go from heavier soils that have greater opportunity than sandier soil that may require a hybrid more suitable for dryer conditions?

    What if we variable rate our starters, topdress, sidedress and foliar materials based on similar data features... what if we could even adjust our irrigation from one emitter to another? The concept is what if we could assess, apply and quantify most aspects of production and adjust all production inputs to maximize our net return on investment?

    Sound far-fetched? Well I’m not the only one with these thoughts, in fact the thought isn’t an original of mine but an expansion of a seed that was placed in my head by more recent events. There has even been some research conducted with some of this in mind, particularly on the nutrient and seed inputs.

    One such case study was conducted comparing Historical Methods and Site Specific Management with the crop focus on corn. The data demonstrated a 10 bushel per acre increase in the average yield with the net profit on the Historical aces of $17.12 per acre while the Site Specific acre generated $177.14 per acre. The net ROI on the Historical acre was 2.7%, while the Site Specific acre was 28.4%. The Non-profitable acres in the Historical data set was 27% while the Non-Profitable acres on the Site Specific acres was only 3%.

    When you think of it much of the necessary data and equipment is already available, all we need to do is put together all the information that we have into a Prescriptive Action Plan: a plan to be profitable on every acre!

    Visionary... not so much but a realist I am to the core. The days of generating profit by simply cutting cost is over! Success in the future, is going to require looking at every foot of every acre and applying all our expenditures for maximum effectiveness!

    Prescriptive application of highly effective inputs is something NACHURS has been doing for ages; it’s just of recent that through the innovation of other production sciences we in Agriculture are now able to put all the pieces together for the benefit of net profit!