Top Ways Farmers Can Cut Down on Inputs and Increase Competitiveness in the Global Market
Farmers and growers of all backgrounds have sought methods to help cut down production overhead while raising their yields and profits. It’s striking this exact balance that has led to the full range of agricultural inputs and technologies developed today: fertilizers, pesticides, and much more.
But here’s the rub: some of these have also added to a farmer’s costs in even greater and more complicated ways. Inputs can be expensive, and some come with downsides that impact soil health, nutrient quality, and a farmer’s most important asset: their land, its longevity to grow crops, and its legacy for future generations.
As modern agricultural technology continues innovating, however, there are many new developing approaches to boosting profits that can help cut down on these costs. Here are some of these top ways farmers can cut down on inputs and costs to keep their operations thriving and successful.
Upgrade or improve your irrigation systems.
Crops need water. Water costs money and energy to pump. While it may seem like just drops in a bucket both literally and figuratively, any inefficiency along your irrigation lines— even the smallest leak or lack of pressure— can be like watching dollar bills vanish into the dirt, sometimes very little to the awareness of most farmers.
Producers shouldn’t underestimate the impact that having a proper irrigation setup can have on their business costs. It’s a worthwhile expenditure to have your irrigation system professionally inspected, improved, or even entirely replaced to cut down water use and overhead— and for the sake of both your pocketbook and the environment, too.
Invest in soil health by using cover crops.
A farmer’s most important equity is their land. And on their land, it’s their soil. Taking care of your soil is not just about positive environmental effects: amplifying soil health can have massive rewards for the health of your crops, your yields, and your livelihood.
Did you know that better soil health and structure can make your crops more drought tolerant, according to the Soil Health Institute? Resting fields, rotating crops, and using cover crops like alfalfa, red clover, or winter rye in between plantings is one of the best ways to return organic matter to your soil, boost its nutrient content, raise its water retention capabilities, and cut down on erosion while enhancing your crops’ ability to withstand dry, hot, and rainless periods.
Gather and implement data on-farm.
Ag data these days is a big deal. If you’re a large or mid-sized farm with the means, technology, and staff to collect data on the daily— but you haven’t implemented a process or routine yet— then you’re missing out on one of the most powerful modern tools farmers can use to cut down on costs while widening that profit margin.
Minute data on soil health, soil type, moisture, nutrient content, etc. right down to the exact acre can help lock in the exact amounts of fertilizer, irrigation, and inputs you need based on the area of your acreage you’re growing. That’s right: data gives you a rich composition of your farm, painting a picture of where you could withhold certain inputs for the year compared to other fields or acres that could use a little more help.
Explore seed coating technologies.
Adjacent to treated or pelleted seed (but slightly different in their uses and engineering), coated seeds—or seed coating technologies— are rising through the ranks of impactful ag technologies that could forever transform the way farmers grow along with their overall success rates. While there is a wide array of needs seed coating technologies can fulfill— protecting seeds from excess moisture, disease, retaining moisture, providing nutrients, etc.— their main objective is targeting your crops at their most vulnerable stage (as seedlings) in order to enhance vigor and slash down on the needed inputs to further protect and nourish them.
This technology does demand a higher premium on seed but the results are far more cost-effective. It’s all thanks to the latest developments in agricultural technology: each with its own unique set of advantages it brings to the table, helping farmers produce more successfully, reliably, cost-effectively, and profitably while continuously lowering inputs for decades to come.