Farmers are planning to produce more corn through more acres and/or more intensive input use. However, is this a wise decision given the yield benefits of a rotation and the costs of more intensive input use?
The objective of this study is to compare the impact of intensive, high input management practices to common practices in terms of crop yields and net returns. A recent experiment in southern Minnesota compared the corn-soybean rotation in common versus high-input practices, and at one site, continuous corn. We first describe the production practices used and then estimate costs and returns. Different price levels and relative prices are used to evaluate the impact of changing market conditions.
Results show the high input strategy having the highest yields and that corn in a C-SB rotation had a higher average yield compared to continuous corn. However, the common practices strategy had the lowest costs both on a per acre and per bushel basis. At current target prices, the C-SB rotation in the common strategy had the highest (least lowest) net return. As the corn price rises and the soybean/corn price ratio declines, the net return for continuous corn rises above the corn-soybean net return. In both rotations, the common practices strategy remained more profitable than high input strategy.