Save Chemical Input Cost with Precision Farming Technology

Kurt LawtonConservation, Fertilizer, Guidance, Harvesting, Planting, seed, Spraying, Variable rate

In the North Dakota Farm Business Management Program, coordinator Steve Metzger says producers are telling him they are using far less chemicals, saving money and the environment thanks to the tools of precision agriculture, according to a recent story in Farm & Ranch Guide.

“We talk to each producer that we work with, and they are the ones telling us that they sure use less chemicals on a field than they used to because of the (precision farming) technology they have,” he said. “I think from those discussions, most are figuring they are saving between 5 to 10 percent on a field with GPS technology.”

Metzger likes to mention the story of a farmer who has been enrolled in the Farm Business Management Program for several years. When ordering herbicide for his total crop acreage he always added five percent to what he had figured and ended up using the entire amount each year. However, the year he added a sprayer with GPS and boom control to his operation he took the entire extra five percent that he always ordered back to the chemical dealer because he didn’t need it.

With the average chemical cost for wheat today at $31.23 per acre, Metzger said there is the potential for great savings.

“If you start looking at saving $2 to $3 an acre on chemical on a couple thousand acres of wheat, it doesn’t take very long before the savings can add up to $5-, $10- or $20,000 on an average farm,” he said.

“And as the costs increase, there is even more of a desire to save all the time,” he continued. “If we didn’t have the GPS units we might still be over-applying by going around sloughs twice, doing the headlands twice – those types of things. But with the GPS and the automatic shutoff, those areas of over-application are taken care of.”

And the savings doesn’t end with chemicals. The five major costs associated with crop production–chemicals, fuel, repairs, seed and fertilizer–can all be trimmed back. Read on for more details.