; Fertilizer Cost Comparison Decision Tool | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Fertilizer Cost Comparison Decision Tool

Jonathan LaPorte


The Fertilizer Cost Comparison Decision Tool provides farm producers with an ability to consider nutrient needs and fertilizer product costs. The decision tool does not replace soil testing or soil-based recommendations. Instead, it offers an opportunity to consider how to meet nutrient needs at the lowest possible cost.

The fertilizer plan starts with an intended yield goal that creates nutrient removal rates for use within the tool. Removal rates can be compared against soil test-based recommendations producers provide. Recommendations can be obtained from a producer’s local soil nutrient laboratory, MSU Fertilizer Recommendation Program, Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations, or Maximum Return to Nitrogen (MRTN) Calculator.

Nutrient values for current or previous manure applications can also be added. A nutrient analysis of manure is recommended for these values so the most accurate recommendation can be made. Nutrient credits from previously grown legumes can also be added. These credits can be added by producers or based on default values based on MSU Bulletin E-2904: Nutrient Recommendations for Field Crops. The final result is the amount of nutrients needed by commercial fertilizer products to meet a farm’s yield goals.

Standard commercial fertilizer products are available in the decision tool. Local prices for products are still needed to determine fertilizer costs. Additional fertilizer products used by a farm can also be applied to the calculation. Up to three fertilizer plans can be created for each crop.

Fertilizer plans can be based on either soil test-based recommendations or nutrient removal rates. These plans can compare different fertilizer products for the same recommendations or differences between soil test or nutrient removal recommendations. Each plan can be individually printed for your farm records.

What a producer needs to use the tool:
• Yield goals
• Soil Test results & recommendations
• Manure nutrient analysis (if applying this year or applied in previous years)
• Information on previous crop (for nutrient credits)
• Fertilizer product prices
• Fertilizer labels (if adding additional products beyond those in tool)
• Field Tract or FSA Farm Number (if fertilizer plans will be based on a per field basis)

*Note: The tool is a macro-based Excel file with "reset" buttons on each page or section to clear tool for flexibility to consider per field nutrient needs.