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Fluid Journal : Early Spring 2013
3 The Fluid Journal Early Spring 2013 From The Publishers “I t’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” says Danish Physicist Neils Bohr. As of this writing, the USDA has not released its planting intentions report. Their long-term report suggests the country needs nearly 10 million acres less corn than the pundits are predicting. Interesting...while drought is mitigating in the eastern Corn Belt but still persists in much of the west or the media plays the “sequester” as economic doom while the Dow hits record highs, nothing really makes much sense. Reminiscent isn’t it of the game Yahtzee where you put dice into a cup, shake it, dump it and try to make sense out of what comes out? So-o-o -o ...maybe it’s about time we try to make sense out of things. Ask ourselves, where are we today? What should we do? There are many growers whose Conservation Reserve Program contracts have expired. My family is among those who are planning a crop for 2013 on land that has lain dormant and growing nothing but grass for 20 years. Some of this ground, admittedly, should never have been farmed (especially with old methods). Today’s modern farming techniques, however, are focused on The Fluid Journal • Official Journal of the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation • Early Spring 2013 • Vol. 21, No. 2, Issue # 80 Making Sense “Ask ourselves, where are we today?” preserving the land. Even with new technology, for example, our intent nevertheless is to farm the valleys but leave the hills in the native grasses and forbs that shelter a myriad of wildlife. Yet at the same time, our mission for the row crop is to maximize yield through high efficiency in ground where it looks like corn is the right fit. How to gauge Given all the complexity of decisions about raising an appropriate crop, there are a few overriding principles. Yield. One is, what will the ground yield? Crop yield becomes a fundamental question on which all other input questions are based. Corn consumes a significant amount of water and requires substantial inputs. Soybeans may require fewer inputs but what is the yield prospect in the environment and soil type? Price. A close second to the yield question is determination of the commodity’s harvest-time price, since together they fix revenue per acre. Farm input suppliers may affect crop yields but input suppliers are impacted by prices. Markets set prices. When prices are high, it seems that growers are more willing to try things to increase yields. High margins cure all sorts of ills and cover up waste. Low margins promote efficiency and input cost effectiveness. As of this writing, old crop corn is in the neighborhood of $7.19 per bushel while the new crop price is around $5.61 per bushel. That difference represents over a $300 per acre of margin on a 200-bushel per acre crop. You can do a lot with margin. If you don’t have it, you have to do less. You have to be efficient. You have to be efficient about achieving high yields. Fortunately, this has been a core message of the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation (FFF) and one never more important than today. Consequences The recent rounds of high crop prices have created some unintended consequences. High crop prices have elevated land, fertilizer, and seed costs to growers. They have spurred increased corn production worldwide and increased energy costs to animal production enough to reduce herd numbers. High input costs have decreased demand for certain products (notably fluid polyphosphates), causing grower uncertainty. Making sense So, there is no Yahtzee cup for the American Farmer. There is, however, a growing body of science to help the grower make sense of the chaos that confronts him. Four times a year, the Fluid Journal publishes topics from the best minds in agriculture to aid the industry in growing better crops more efficiently. In this issue you will have the privilege of reading some well-thought-out research that makes a whole lot of sense. Enough said. Dr. Raun Lohry is President of Nutra-Flo Company in North Sioux City, SD, and a member of the FFF’s Board of Directors. 2013 Fluid Technology Roundup this coming fall in Omaha, NE. Keep tuned for more information
Late Spring 2013