How can you save on fertilizer – one of the biggest expenses on every farm?
Grower Albert Martin of Springville, Iowa, found that he can save $10 an acre, or more, simply by using a scale on his spreader.
And that’s just on the cost of fertilizer.
Albert and a group of other farmers purchase fertilizer directly from a large processor; buying in bulk means tremendous savings.
“You can buy your fertilizer in the off-season and, if you have a place to store it, it’s much less expensive than buying in in-season when prices are higher,” Albert says.
The key to making the plan work was putting a scale on the fertilizer spreader.
“We went ahead and bought a scale and put it on the spreader,” says Albert. “Then as we’re spreading fertilizer, we can break down what each farmer gets and it helps pay for the load and save money for everybody.”
Confidence in quantity purchased and applied
“We found that if you are buying so many pounds of fertilizer, you want to make sure that you are getting the correct amount,” Albert says.
With the scale, Albert explains, they’re able to be confident that they’re getting what they pay for.
The scale also makes it possible to calibrate the spreader, so they know they’re putting on the right amount.
Bringing accuracy to fertilizer spreading
When it comes to fertilizer application, variable rate technology is surprisingly inaccurate. The typical fertilizer spreader applies not by weight but at a specified rate, calculated by the density of the product, the width of the belt and the speed of the belt.
“Everyone’s been applying fertilizer this way for the last ten years,” says Nick Von Muenster, operations manager at Scale-Tec. “The fertilizer spreader will go out and they don’t know how much they’ve spread until it’s empty.”
With a scale on the spreader, farmers can truly control how much fertilizer they’re putting down on every acre.
And when commodity prices are low, every cost savings counts.
“Accuracy matters,” says Albert. “It just goes back to saving money per acre and doing the job right.”