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Butler Co. workshop focuses on nitrogen costs
By Steve Bartels
Ohio Farm News

One Monday morning about eight weeks ago on our C.O.R.N. conference call, I asked Robert Mullen, OSU Extension soil fertility specialist, what price nitrogen needed to be before farmers should cut back on their purchase of this input with the price of corn below $2 per bushel.

Nitrogen prices continue to creep up putting more pressure on you to manage this input more economically. Mullen suggested that the answer to that question was too long and complicated for the telephone conference call but volunteered to come to Butler County to address it at an evening meeting. I took him up on that in a heartbeat.

We will meet at the Janet Clemmons Center, 284 N. Fair Ave in Hamilton, on Thursday, Dec. 15, beginning at 7 p.m. The center is located next to the fairgrounds; back the same drive as the Juvenile Justice Center.

We will also go over the results of the Butler County corn yield checks, the results of the insecticide plot and the fertilizer placement plots. There will be a $10 registration fee charged at the door. Call 513-887-3722 or 513-424-5351, ext. 3722 for your reservation.

Dr. Mullen said fall nitrogen prices are traditionally cheaper than spring prices. The problem for some producers is that their local retailer cannot work out spring delivery for a fall price. If you do not have storage on the farm for the product you may not be able to get the fall price.

Considering the price of storage, including interest on the money you have paid, fall price may not be that much more economical than spring price.

No one knows how high the spring price may go; it is only speculation that the price will be higher in spring. Another consideration is your income tax situation. Now is a great time to do some end of year income tax calculations to see if prepurchased inputs will help you there.

The price of fuel, as well as fertilizer, is likely to be higher in the spring. This makes a program that allows the least number of trips across the field the most attractive.

Fertilization through the planter would meet that requirement. Nitrogen needs of the corn crop cannot be met in a 2-inch by 2-inch placement because of salt injury. The problem is even more profound if fertilizer is placed in the furrow. Mullen suggests you should not put more than 10 lbs. of nitrogen in the furrow.

He also says that you should limit nitrogen to 50 pounds of actual, not product, in a 2 by 2 placement.

Research conducted for the last four years here in Butler County suggest, you get the most economical use of your nitrogen through the planter in a placement that is at least 5 inches to the side of your row.

We have a farmer here in the county that has successfully placed all his nitrogen through the planter for 30 years in a 6-inch placement. It will work!

You may want to spend your winter months thinking about alternatives like these to make you operation as efficient as possible.

This Ohio farm news was published in the November 30, 2005 issue of Farm World.