February 4, 2008
Contact: Ev Thomas, W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, 518-846-7121 x115;
Mike Hunter, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, 315-788-8450; Joe Lawrence, CCE Lewis County, 315-376-5270; Peter Barney, CCE St. Lawrence County, 315-379-9192

Skyrocketing Costs Mean Farmers Must Attend NNY Fertilizer Meetings March 19-21

Blame it on the increasing price of oil, more crop acreage in the U.S., more corn in China, ethanol, or politics. The bottom line is farmers will pay a lot more per ton for fertilizer in 2008 than they did in 2007, says Ev Thomas, Vice President of Agricultural Programs at W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy, NY. That is why you should attend one of the Making the Most of Your Fertilizer Dollar workshops in Northern New York in March to learn how to cope with the rising costs of crop production.

The fertilizer focused programs will be held March 19 at the Extension Learning Farm in Canton, March 20 at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County in Lowville, and March 21 at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County in Watertown.

Thomas says, �The USDA predicts fertilizer prices will be up by 18 percent. Try at least twice that increase based on the prices I have been quoted by fertilizer dealers. The dealers themselves are already paying over $100 per ton more for MAP (monoammonium phosphate, commonly applied to corn crops) and urea than a year ago. I would say $600 per ton for urea is not out of the question this year. Potash Corporation has warned that the total change in the wholesale price of potash from 2007 to 2008 may be $100 per ton,� Thomas says.

Some experts are predicting that by spring 2008, nitrogen fertilizer prices will increase by another ten percent or more over today�s already very high prices, Thomas says.

�2008 would be a dandy year to develop a fertilizer plan based on soil analysis and taking full credit for nutrients provided to soil by manure applications,� Thomas says.

Thomas says a PSNT (presidedress nitrate test) is especially valuable where spring-applied manure is incorporated into the soil soon after application. At fifty cents per pound of nitrogen, saving 50 lbs of unnecessary nitrogen application per acre on one 20-acre field means the farmer keep $50 in his pocket.

Nutrient management research funded in part by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has shown that starter fertilizer applications of phosphorus and potassium can be eliminated on corn fields that have high or very high soil fertility.

At the Miner Institute only starter nitrogen fertilizer is applied to corn fields with high soil fertility and no fertilizer at all is applied to legume-grass seedlings on high fertility soil. Thomas says a 50-50 blend of urea and ammonium sulfate is used on highly fertile cornfields, applying approximately 100 pounds per acre of the resulting 33-0-0 blend of fertilizer.

�The application we are using on our high fertility fields saves money and time with fewer fertilizer hopper fill-ups, and it produces crops to feed our dairy herd just fine,� Thomas says.

He adds that higher fertilizer prices mean every spreader-load of manure becomes more valuable as a money-saving resource, so farmers can afford to spend more time and fuel to take the manure to lower fertility fields.

�Depending on the nutrient levels, applying one 4,000-gallon load of manure, for example, could be worth $50 work of fertilizer you do not have to buy and the potassium available in liquid dairy manure is probably more plant-available than that in commercial fertilizer,� Thomas says.

Thomas says a survey of seed sellers indicates their prices will rise by more than the four percent USDA predicts.

�If our per-unit seed cost is only four percent more than last year here at the Institute I will be very pleased -- and very surprised. I will be amazed if total corn production costs are not up by at least ten percent this year. Seed costs are just one more reason why Northern New York farmers should attend the Making the Most of Your Fertilizer Dollar workshops in March and make use of the regional research data on nutrient management made possible by Cornell University researchers and funding from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program,� Thomas says.

For more information on the mid-March fertilizer meetings, contact Cornell Cooperative Extension. Information on fertilizer applications, nutrient balancing and soil surveys is available on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org. A committee of dairy, fruit, livestock, maple and vegetable producers guides the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program that funds research and educational outreach with practical results for NNY farmers. Dairymen Jon Greenwood of Canton and Joe Giroux of Plattsburgh co-chair the program. # # #