As farmers prepare to face another financially tough growing season, most are looking for ways to boost profitability. But what is left to cut? Check out how these three producers are adding value, becoming more efficient, being creative and cutting costs on their farms.
Herbek farms around 1,900 acres of alfalfa, corn, soybeans and wheat.
A: “I’m not necessarily trying to cut costs. Instead, I’m focused on the idea that when I am in the field, I want to know that I am doing the best job I possibly can. We are focused on soil health and not wasting nutrients. I can’t say I am cutting back on nutrients. I just want to be more efficient with them. To know we are being efficient, we do several tissue tests and soil tests throughout the year. Additionally, we use satellite imagery. We kind of run the whole gamut of stuff that is out there for farmers to use for field management. We use several tools to monitor fields closely and see what we are doing well and where we need to improve. Bottom line, we like to know that we are getting a good rate of return on all of our inputs.”
Splitter Farms includes 4,200 acres of corn, soybeans, grain sorghum and wheat. They custom farm another 3,500 acres.
A: “The last couple years have been challenging. The first round of cuts is really easy. We’ve already cut herbicides and fertilizers to the lowest comfortable amount. We trimmed the first 5% to 10% quickly. After that, it becomes a little trickier. One savings area that we always evaluate is being more efficient with labor. We currently have three full-time employees, but we’re looking to add another. The goal is to cut contract labor. We can bring somebody on staff full-time to do agronomy and all our precision and technology needs for the same or lower cost. Overall, I’m not focused on how to reduce costs. I’m focused on bringing a higher value to my product.”
Zumwalt farms 2,000 acres of corn, wheat and soybeans in the Mississippi River Bottoms.
A: “We have pooled our agronomic needs together across several entities to achieve greater buying power for crop inputs like seed and chemicals. I believe we have saved 5% to 15%. We always try to maximize every pass in the field. We aren’t just doing tillage, we are applying chemical in the same pass. The planter applies liquid fertilizer or starter, insecticide, herbicide and plants all in one pass. The more that can be done per pass, the lower the cost per acre. While equipment that promotes efficiency always costs money, it always returns profits. Whether that is in acres covered per day or per employee, less fatigue or in greater yields and profit, efficiency returns numerous benefits which may reduce costs.”