COLUMBUS, Ohio -- From seed to fertilizer, Ohio farmers can expect to pay more in input costs for corn and soybean production in 2008.
Barry Ward, an Ohio State University Extension economist, said that costs for corn production are expected to be 24 percent to 35 percent higher in 2008 than in 2007 depending on seed trait selection, while soybean costs are projected to be 23 percent higher -- all thanks to the continuing trend of high fuel and nitrogen prices.
"The cost of some variables, like fuel, is not as staggering as one would expect, but one thing that we didn't expect to see were dramatically higher potassium and phosphorus prices," said Ward. "The average price of phosphorous fertilizers is expected to increase approximately 65 percent from 2007 to 2008. Potassium prices are expected to increase 40 percent from 2007 to 2008."
Higher prices, increased transportation costs and higher demand both internationally and stateside, have led to price increases in potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen, said Ward. Seed prices are also increasing, fueled by the increasing number of seed packages that only contain transgenic trait hybrids.
"Farmers' choices when it comes to seed selection are becoming more limited, as non-transgenic hybrids are being replaced by seed with single and stacked traits," said Ward. "Seed company data indicates prices for 2008 to be 5 percent to 10 percent higher."
Despite the impending higher costs for 2008, farmers can take steps to potentially cut costs:
• Evaluate seed choice carefully. "If a non-transgenic hybrid performs well, don't buy a pricier transgenic hybrid that you don't need," said Ward. "Refer to Ohio State University and company research to make the best seed selections."
• Consider crop protection chemicals as an alternative to transgenic hybrids. "Crop protection chemical prices have remained fairly flat over the last two years and several products have seen price decreases due to the prevalence of generic products in the marketplace," said Ward. "Increases of 3 percent to 4 percent are predicted for 2008."
• Treat fertilizer purchases the same as market analysis of grain. "Make fertilizer evaluation a year-round activity," said Ward. "Spreading out your purchases and buying at several different times should result in a better price average over the long run as you average your high-priced purchases with your low priced purchases."
• Take advantage of short-term fertilizer storage when fertilizer prices dip during seasonal lows or changes in the market.
• Consider alternatives to purchased fertilizer, such as manure application.
• Change agricultural production practices by incorporating cover crops as an alternative nitrogen source.