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Four ways to trim input expenses in a high-cost year

Read Time: 4 minutes

By Anna Teeter February 24, 2022

High prices provide strong motivation to re-consider every application on your farm


This year, cost of production is projected to be seriously high, which means your decision-making game must be on-point to save you from incurring extra costs. Whether you’re involved in regenerative agriculture or not, we’re all watching global events and their effect on grain prices, oil, and natural gas prices. Because of the uncertainty, you have to get creative to optimize your returns. 

Here are four tips for keeping input costs low:

  • Reduce unnecessary trips across the field. This means getting out on your feet and scouting. Getting a closeup look helps you be more certain of what herbicide, insecticide, and/or fungicide products you’ll need to use. 
    • Integrated pest management (IPM) is critical as it gives you a threshold for action and helps you decide when it is worth spending money on pesticides. Most universities have state relevant IPM strategies. Here is a good one from Purdue University.
  • Avoid over-applying nitrogen, especially as it’s no secret that nitrogen costs are through the roof. Use the Maximum Return to Nitrogen Calculator to compare the return of N per acre to applied rate per acre. It makes more sense than ever to determine the most economical rate of nitrogen in a year of high input costs. 
  • Consider use of nitrogen stabilizers.  Nitrogen stabilizers are not as effective in drought conditions because there’s little microbial activity to be prevented and a lower risk for nitrogen loss, whereas in warm and wet years, soils have high leaching potential.
  • Use herbicides at full rate to ensure an effective kill on first application. While it may be tempting to cut back to save on product, having to hit the field again is an even more expensive mistake. 
    • Make sure to spray when weeds are actively growing, especially in warm temperatures.
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Anna Teeter

Anna Teeter is a Conservation Agronomist with the Cargill RegenConnect™ program. Her goal is to help farmers successfully implement soil health practices while continuing to advocate for agriculture. Anna brings extensive hands-on experience having worked with the University of Wisconsin-Madison extension services, private ag consulting services, and most recently the Soil Health Partnership, which led her to Cargill. She has a Bachelor of Science in Agronomy and Life Sciences Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters of Science in Soil Science.