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For farmers, supply chain issues have been top-of-mind for the past few years, and this year has proven worse. Facing global fertilizer shortages and rising costs, farmers have been forced to jump into panic mode to ensure they have the necessary inputs to grow a successful crop. Now, more than ever, farmers are looking to be more sustainable, profitable, and productive.

The good news is that farmers may not need to buy as much as they think, and they can access tools to optimize everything they do buy. Leveraging advances in agricultural technology, farmers can lower input costs while increasing yields, enriching their soil, and securing the highest value from their input investment.

Below, we cover five ways farmers can optimize their input investments this season:

1. Listen to the soil

Having accurate soil sample results is critical for effective input management. Soil testing provides a detailed understanding of how much of last year’s input is still available in the soil for this year’s crops. By testing for existing nutrients, farmers can optimize input use and avoid placing fertilizer where it’s not needed, thereby keeping costs down.

Although soil sampling has gained a reputation for being labor-intensive and expensive, advances in technology have increased farmers’ access to more cost-effective, soil-friendly options. Examples include: (a) zone-based soil sampling — directed by field maps detailing specific soil points across high-and low-performing zones of the fields, and (b) Virtual Soil Testing (VST) — a process in which actual soil test results and other field-centric data layers are incorporated into models using machine learning to predict nutrient levels in the soil.

Not only are practices like these cheaper, they’re also better for the environment, supporting global sustainability goals.

2. Using less, getting more

Variable Rate Technology (VRT) has been used for over twenty years and is a proven agronomic tool. Using a prescribed rate map, farmers can see higher yields across their fields and realize savings from applying lower rates of inputs.

Combining data from soil sampling, satellite imagery, and historical records, Farmers Edge helps farmers build an advanced agronomic plan that aligns with the unique yield and profitability goals of the farm.

Farmers receive variable rate prescriptions that detail input placement in specific field zones, categorized on a scale of high-performing to low-performing areas of the field. Treating each area of the field differently allows farmers to ensure that they are only applying precisely what’s needed and where it’s needed, lowering costs without sacrificing yield.

Whether you use VRT or flat-rate nutrient management, find the right fertility program for your farm here.

3. Let the data do the work

When used correctly by the farmer, the value of data is priceless. Farm data drives informed decision-making: seed selection, fertility planning, in-season management, grain marketing, and everything in between. But for data to be valuable, it must be accessible and insightful, and that means making it easy to visualize, analyze, and share securely and seamlessly.

FarmCommand® — a comprehensive digital platform from Farmers Edge® — gathers field-centric data from on-farm weather stations, universal telematics devices, high-resolution, high-frequency satellite imagery, and soil samples. The platform automatically turns data into insights, analytics, detailed reports, field maps, and predictive models for growth stages, pests, harvest timing, yield, and more.

With all data in one place, farmers can drive the sustainable production of high-quality, low-carbon grain with complete transparency from field to market.

Book a demo of agriculture’s most comprehensive digital platform to experience what it’s like to manage farm data effortlessly. Schedule a time here.

4. Shop the product, not the label

It’s no secret that brand-name products come with higher price tags. Much like shopping empires Amazon and Walmart sell their generic brands of highly recognizable products at a lower price tag, agricultural manufacturers also have lower-priced input options for farmers. CommoditAg.com is an e-commerce platform that provides convenient access to high-quality crop inputs and farm supplies at affordable prices, including fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, crop growth regulators, desiccants, oils, lubricants, and more. With the right agronomic plan in hand, farmers can save money at the initial purchase point and in-season by shopping off-label brands from trusted retailers and suppliers. Orders can be picked up locally or delivered directly to the farm for added simplicity, convenience, and peace of mind. To increase the value of every purchase, farmers can start a free CommoditAg.com membership and gain first access to sales, promotions, educational seminars, and more.

Launch your free CommoditAg.com membership here and explore products on sale now.

5. Get rewarded for improved input use

When farmers employ sustainable practices such as VRT, nutrient management, soil sampling, no-till, and more, there are opportunities to get cash back in their pockets. Sustainability comes at a price, and farmers are stretching their bottom line to ensure they’re producing the highest-quality, low-carbon, climate-friendly crops. From government subsidies to newly created opportunities on the carbon market, farmers can get paid for increasing food production sustainably. By managing real-time datasets collected passively from the farm, farmers can seamlessly validate practices to create an entry point into the carbon market for additional revenue. Choosing the right program is entirely dependent on the unique needs of each farm. From 1-year to 100-year commitments, farmers should explore options that are easy to implement, ROI-focused, and best resonate with the long-term goals of their operation.

Explore carbon programs for farmers here and get a free carbon assessment.

With no sign of input costs decreasing on the horizon, farmers should do everything they can to optimize their investments. By leveraging farm data, carbon credits, savvy shopping habits, and sustainable agronomic practices, farmers are better equipped to maximize their fertilizer investment, protect their bottom line, and drive the long-term productivity of the farm.