ISSUE #512

512 - Are High Costs Dictating Changes?


Diesel fuel approaching $5/gallon and fertilizer well over $1,000/ton were unthinkable just 2 or 3 years ago. Escalating costs of fuel, fertilizer, machinery, seed and other costs demand more careful planning than ever as we look to 2009. Past production paradigms aren't always the best practices to continue using. Tillage practices and fertilizer use, stand establishment and many other practices may need to be revaluated for the future


Strip Tillage Advantages to Consider

  • Save 3-5 passes across the field at a $25 - 35 total savings
  • Reduce P and K fertilizer by 25-50%, a $15-30 savings
  • Complete stand protection from spring winds - increased yields likely
  • Maximum soil conservation management
  • Potential NRCS cost sharing

Suggestions for 2009 Strip Till Adoption on Your Farm

  • Must have RTK guidance
  • Choose a well drained field
  • Plant rows N-S for a warmer seedbed
  • Rent equipment / share equipment to try this out in 2009
  • Must have residue managers on the planter
  • Best weed control with bio-tech varieties
  • Use X-BEET seed
  • Spread straw thoroughly after harvest
  • Recommend strip till following a small grain


Fall Rye Cover Crop For 2009 

Several Moorhead Factory District Growers used this practice very successfully in 2008.

Fall Cover Crop Advantages Include:

  • Erosion protection throughout the year
  • Cover crop protection from the day you plant
  • Low seed cost for fall rye
  • Can do light tillage without damage prior to planting
  • Controls quite easily with first Roundup or Microrate application (Watch Rates)
  • NRCS (National Resource Conservation Service) cost share potential
  • Apply seed with fall tillage
  • Less spring workload
  • Plant by the end of September 

Concerns With Fall Rye Include:

  • Early fall fertilizer application and N loss
  • Effective control early in the spring is critical

Managing High Cost Fertilizers

  • Use zone management sampling/spreading
  • 10 lb/Acre zone differences justify variable application of N
  • Use starter P applications only
  • Band P & K to reduce rates - plant over bands with RTK guidance
  • Apply in late fall to reduce risk of losses
  • Never apply P & K with high or very high soil tests
  • Always use beet top N credits for next crop

Fertilizer application costs have more than tripled to raise sugarbeets since 2004.

Table 1. Average Fertilizer Applied and Cost, 2004* Versus 2008**

 NPKNPKTotal Fertilizer
 (lbs Applied)($/Acre)($/Acre)
2004 75 36 8 15 7 1 23
2008 64 39 9 43 32 6 81

*2004 prices from 2004 Grower Cost Benchmarking

**2008 prices as of July, 2008


Contact your crop consultant or agriculturist for assistance.

Fertilizer For 2009

Growers are advised to check with their dealers ASAP on price and supplies for fall 2008 or spring 2009.

Thanks Roger Sellnow A very special thanks to Roger Sellnow for 33 years of service to Pembina County Sugarbeet Growers. He retired June 30, 2008

Ask David For prompt answers to your questions and comments, call and leave a message and David Berg or one of his staff will respond to your call as soon as possible. Shareholders: Toll Free 1-800-633-8941