Making Good Fertilizer Decisions

Fertilizer will be one of the highest expenses for farmers on a per acre basis this year. Deciding if and when to buy fertilizer is not an easy decision to make. A soil test is a good way to start. Working with a trusted agronomist or a soil testing company, farmers can get a better idea of what nutrients are needed for each field. NDSU Extension Soil Specialist Dave Franzen says soil sampling a day or two after fields are harvested or worked is one way to get an accurate reading. Extension also publishes fertilizer recommendations. NDSU Extension’s updated recommendations will be available online by mid-August. “The biggest change is we’ve expanded our nitrogen costs.” Once farmers know what fields need, shopping begins. Fertilizer prices are higher this year compared to last year. Innovus Agra farm business management coach Bret Oelke says the timing to secure pricing is important. “Do farmers price it now in anticipation of prices not dropping any further or perhaps going up? I would suggest growers talk to suppliers and discuss those programs. They’re available.” After you’ve got the prices, Northland Community and Technical College Farm Business Management Instructor Josh Tjosaas says to evaluate and compare options. Don’t be afraid to tap into your trusted farm business management coach or a lender. If you’re able to lock in better prices than last year, Tjosaas says work backwards. Consider where there are opportunities for profitable crop sales in the future to help cover the costs.