Nitrogen – Getting Smarter about our Biggest Investment

November 8, 2018

Nitrogen: Getting Smarter about our Biggest Investment from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

Nitrogen – Getting Smarter about our Biggest Investment.

One of the biggest pet peeves that I harbor is when somebody tells me, “Because we have always done it that way!” I really don’t care if it's when one of my kids explaining how they are doing their math, a volunteer group talking about how to organize an event, or – dare I say it – a grower talking about their operation. In all of those cases, there are two factors in play, security, and comfort. Security and comfort ensure that as long as we stay with what we know, we will get “predictable” results that will be satisfactory to us far more often than not. Security and comfort stand between being good and being outstanding. And again, dare I say it, security and comfort sometimes stand between ensuring a year where we turn a profit, and a year where we make some money.

Now, as I think about how we have made Nitrogen decisions across the Plains for the last “XX” years, we have chosen to be safe and calculated. And by no means is there anything wrong with that. However, I am of the mind that we should treat our operations a bit like an investment portfolio, or a 401K. Some people are very comfortable with risk and choose to place some of their portfolio in emerging markets. Others are so risk-averse that all of their portfolio goes into things that are so conservative they will probably never lose anything, but they also won’t gain much either. And then there is the middle of the road group. They choose the Blue Chip stocks that have a history of producing consistent gains. Some years are better, some years are worse, but the long run is a decisive win.

When it comes to Nitrogen, I think it is time to talk about one of the things we can do that has moved its way from emerging to Blue Chip, and that is Variable Rate Nitrogen prescriptions. Now it wasn’t all that long ago that VRN was a controversial investment. As the saying goes, “everything is great until the corn turns yellow.” It was a tongue in cheek joke, but it was also a motto we lived by in the early days. No matter how much we wanted to be aggressive in our Nitrogen recommendations, you didn’t dare push too far too fast for fear of crossing the imaginary line. So we were conservative and limited our gains. A sort of “walk before you run” approach. But as we vetted out the process and learned how to incorporate split applications and varying Nitrogen sources, we became increasingly more successful at them. And today, I feel that VRN is a Blue Chip stock for your operation because it gives us significant opportunity to allocate resources appropriately for the best return. Regardless of if you are applying Nitrogen this fall, or not until spring talk to us about VR Nitrogen prescriptions right now.

So then on the emerging front that left us an opening to pick a new technology to put to work. We have been evaluating Nitrogen models for a few seasons now and trying them in demo situations. And the success has been better with some than others. For this next season, I am going to be talking to you about one specific model that I feel good about, and that is Adapt N. Nitrogen models are a shining example of being rewarded for hard work. What I mean is, I have found that the more data, the more information, and the increased time I put into giving Adapt N the info to refine the N rec, the better the Nitrogen rec comes out. The Adapt N models that I have looked at look similar to our VRN recs (the Blue Chip) that we build, but adjusted for the weather conditions for the growing season we are having.

So for those of you that are preparing for or in the middle of Fall Anhydrous, I challenge you to pick up the phone and call your trusted advisor or ACS Regional Manager to talk with them about your Nitrogen recommendations. Getting started with recs may take very little for your operation. For the rest of you, you have the luxury of a few cold months between you and N applications. Make sure at least a small portion of that time is dedicated to learning about your options to enhance the investment you are making in your operation so that you get maximum returns on those investments.

By Keith Byerly

Posted: 11/8/2018 4:40:56 PM by Kelli Emanuel | with 0 comments