Bring Soil Back to Life and Save Input Dollars

( Darrell Smith )

If you could improve your soil health and increase your profit at the end of the season, would you do it? Kind of a no brainer, right? For some farmers, conservation practices bring real savings in terms of pest inputs, fertilizer inputs and other expenses.

On Eric Niemeyer’s farm in Ohio, implementing no-till, variable rate fertilizer application and eventually cover crops led to nearly $40 per acre in savings.

“Cover crops are like miracle workers holding soil in place,” he says. In addition, cover crops helped boost microbial activity making “dead soil alive again.”

His savings came primarily from:

  • Better nutrient recycling—saving him nearly $18 an acre per year on fertilizer
    • Cut nitrogen use in corn 5%
    • Cut phosphorus and potassium by 50%
  • Improved weed management—$18 per acre saved
    • Nearly eliminated residual herbicides by planting green
  • Less disease pressures—saving $6 per acre in soybeans by reducing fungicide seed treatment
  • Lighter insect pressure
  • Reduced soybean seeding rate—a $5 per acre savings

In addition, he’s saving $35 per acre by eliminating tillage passes. The cost and labor savings helped him have the time he needed to increase his farm’s size.

Niemeyer said in a recent news release, he can see the improvements in soil health and can prove it in the combine. His per-acre average corn yield increased from 165 bu. to 195 bu. and his per-acre soybean yield went from 45 bu. to 65 bu.

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