When 1 Plus 1 Doesn’t Equal 2

James Banahan

James Banahan

I won’t even make you read too far to get to the punchline here.  If the question is, “When does 1 plus 1 not equal 2?” the answer is, “On some cost-cutting measures.”

I understand the thinking though.  It goes something like this: I have this much money now (1), I can save this much money by not doing that thing (+1), so I’ll have this much money in the end (2).  The problem arises in the middle there, as the saving isn’t additive like itseems to be, but subtractive since you’ve taken something away.  And when that something is an important something—read: something proven to boost your yield, read: something like Nitrogen—the subtractive factor increases.  The equation turns out more like 1 + 1= -7.

Maybe that makes your head hurt.  With corn prices where they are today, our instinct is to cut.  The grandpa kicks in in us and we start to say things like, “A penny saved is a penny earned.”  We whip out the old-timey thinking that tells us to batten down the hatches.  It was, after all, the kind of thinking that helped our moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas survive their tough economic climate.  It might even be the kind of thinking that literally saved the farm and made it possible for you to be doing what you’re doing right now.


But right now is a bit different than back then.  The economic climate, while chilly, isn’t so cold, and advances in technology have provided us with products and actions so beneficial to our operations that they turn the whole “penny saved, penny earned” thing right on its ear.  The more apt aphorism for our time might go, “A penny well-invested is better than no pennies at all.”

You’ve no doubt heard the stories: growers walking away from their cash for rent acres, deals that sounded so sweet just three short years ago now sour enough to make a man or woman break a legal contract.  That land payment, that equipment payment—they’re very real, right?, and we all know the guy who knows the guy who knows the guy that had to give up.

But, you.  Most of you have hedged your bets pretty well.  You’re not at DEFCON 1—you’re probably not even at DEFCON 3, really.  Yes, you’re unhappy with the price of corn where it is.  And yes, you’re wariness and concern about your finances is totally rational.  But do you need to save every penny?  No.  No, no, no.

The name of the game is smart spending.  Ascend, Nutrisphere, soybean seed treatments—these common add-ins are oh so easy to cut.  That’s the penny-saved approach.  Should they be cut though?  Probably not.  And why?  Because they are the primo examples of modern products that consistently provide return on investment.

That’s the smart spending approach.