Optimizing fertilization regimes – this is the step that many farmers will take in the new cropping year to reduce production costs.
The current year’s jump in fertilizers’ prices will encourage many farmers to seek out good opportunities/alternatives for cutting back fertilizer use, both compound products, and ammonium nitrate.
Kalin Dimov, KOS Yambol EOOD (private limited company)
Around 700-ha small grains and 60-ha lavender are grown by Kalin Dimov. The agronomist prefers to buy in advance the fertilizers he will use for his fields in order to take advantage of better price offers. However, in the last two campaigns, the situation is different:
“Already prices have doubled in the last year and this has affected our costs very seriously.” shares Dimov.
He is still looking into the fertilizers for the upcoming autumn campaign and seeking opportunities to buy cheaper fertilizers. He doesn’t hide his concern about two realistic possibilities: finding cheaper products of poorer quality or expensive products’ investments making the production unprofitable.
“Nobody knows what the yields will be next year, nor at what price the product will be sold. If I know that I will get a wheat selling price of 0.20-0.23 EURO/kg, it will not be a problem that the fertilizers cost 590 EURO/ton. Nobody may guarantee my yields, nor that I will get that selling price since our production goes to the stock market.”
“Most probably we will apply fewer fertilizers than usual.” predicts the farmer.”
It has already been a 3-year period since variable rate fertilization was implemented on the farm. Variable-rate nitrogen spreading and leaf spraying have also been practiced, based on plant tissue testing for estimation of nutritional deficiency, followed by corresponding corrective applications.
“With the variable-rate application, our farm doesn’t lose fertilizers as compared to the flat rate application.” states Kalin Dimov, adding
” I definitely recommend fertilization with variable rates, since precise fertilizers’ distribution is achieved to its maximum, meaning that the products are placed where we need them and to the zonal target extent. There is no sense to spend your money on extending fertilizer rates, as we used to do in old Soviet Cooperative times, especially upon actual tops at fertilizers costs.”
Svilen Marinov, ET Dabnik (sole trader)
“The fertilizers for the autumn campaign have still not been purchased at our farm.” shares Svilen Marinov.
“Fertilizers’ prices are insanely high, while agricultural crops selling prices didn’t reach the expected heights. We are yet to discuss compromise options with our agronomy advisor.” shares the farmer, who grows 450-ha grain crops in the land of Gorni Dabnik and Telish villages, Pleven region.
Variable rates have been applied on the farm for two years now, following soil testing and fertilization recommendations by experts from the NIK company.
“I am satisfied with this partnership – it comes out cheaper for me with soil testing and the application of fertilizers with variable rates.” shares the husbandman, adding that this fall, too, he is going to fertilize only where and as much as necessary.
“Now, after the team of NIK has collected my soil samples for testing, we are looking forward to hearing the recommendations from their specialists. Once we understand what is the soil’s current level of plant-available nutrients, we will decide which fertilizers we may apply in smaller amounts and correspondingly, what fertilizer types and quantities to buy.”
Lubomir Martinov, Bulgaflor EOOD (private limited company)
The rise in fertilizer prices has not yet made a serious impact on the production process of Lubomir Martinov during the current crop year, because the farmer had procured the necessary fertilizers at lower prices before they rose sharply.
“I prefer buying the fertilizers in advance and I practice this for 80 % of the total amount. I have purchased at a higher price only 25 tons of nitrogen fertilizers. My colleagues, who bought fertilizers once the prices got higher, logically got higher production costs.” shares the farmer, who cultivates wheat, barley, milk thistle, corn, sunflower, and canola on 650-ha of land in the region of Kazanluk.
Despite the higher fertilizers prices this year, the farmer will bet on the products he commonly works with, however, with the general idea to apply them in lower amounts.
“I will rather rely on a more precise soil analysis in order to refine the fertilization as well.”, Martinov shares.
Being a long-term client of NIK in terms of navigation systems and software for precision agriculture, for a year now, Lubomir Martinov’s farm has been using the agrochemical services of NIK in terms of soil sampling, lab testing, and agronomic advisory about crop fertilization. Based on NIK agrochemical services, during the last season the grower has implemented variable fertilization applications at one part of the farm: phosphorus and potassium autumn applications and nitrogen spring applications. He is planning to include gradually variable rates of fertilization throughout the whole farm.
The region, where the cropped fields are situated, is characterized with variability in terms of soils type and profile.
“It is advisable soils to be tested and corresponding variable applications to be proceeded in areas like ours: even within a single unit, different nutrient needs are observed. In one and the same field, we have zones that are very rich in nutrients, together with zones that are nutrients’ poor. In this sense, variable-rate fertilization helps us to equalize the soil fertility of each plot and to save on the costs of feeding the soil and nourishing the plants.”, the farmer is categorical.
Here is what the agronomists from NIK recommend us about crops fertilization optimization and higher effectiveness:
✅ Accustom your fertilization practices to the variability of soil nutrient concentrations across your terrains. This will allow you to achieve the highest efficiency from fertilizers application. Only by soil samples’ laboratory analysis can the distribution of soil nutrients be accurately determined.
✅ If you plan to save on the high cost of buying fertilizers, still do not skip fertilization. Even if you decide to apply fewer fertilizer amounts, place them in the Right Places that have been reported to contain the lowest nutrient concentrations.
✅ Application of the Right Source, with a certain nutrients’ ratio (determined as active substance), is the key to the quality nutrition of the crops.