Measure price savings, services
Purchasing some farm inputs might require only a price check, but other products require ongoing support and service. Missy Bauer, Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist, explains which inputs fall into each category.
Buy on Price. Fertilizer, which is mostly a commodity, can be pricedriven. Bauer advises growers to buy based on price per acre to make sure they get the best value. However, fertilizer application is different. "If you don’t work with an independent agronomist for fertility recommendations, make sure you respect the retailer you work with," she says. Work with someone who can implement soil sampling based on management zones and apply fertilizer with variable-rate applications.
"There are a lot of dollars to
gain by selecting the right
hybrid for the right field."
"Chemicals are one of the easier inputs to price-shop," Bauer says. Most are supported by the manufacturer, so it’s important to establish a relationship with the manufacturing representative. Like fertilizer application, chemical application is relationship- oriented.
Buy on Relationship. With lime, you don’t need to know all the ins and outs, but you must ask the right questions. "Not all lime is created equal," Bauer says. Ask about the equipment the dealer uses, how often he pan-tests or calibrates the equipment and how he adjusts settings based on the type of lime. "Spreading lime is expensive; make sure it’s done properly by someone you trust," Bauer says.
With seed, don’t look at price alone. "Work with a dealer who understands hybrid placement," Bauer says. "There are a lot of dollars to gain by selecting the right hybrid for the right field." Find a local seed salesman who understands agronomic principles or has a company agronomist who can help with hybrid selection, placement and agronomics.