Between 2 and 3 million of Iowa's more than 13.5 million acres of corn are not likely to earn a profit for the grower this year.
So why do farmers in Iowa and other states allow themselves to be caught in unprofitable situations? Or what could or should they do about it?
Providing advice on those questions is the goal of the start-up AgSolver company which is based at Ames, IA. Establishing a presence in Wisconsin is still on the horizon for the most part, according to Michael Musselman, the firm's sales and business development director.
Profit zone manager
For a fee of 50 cents to $2 per acre, the company will work with growers to identify thousands of profitable and unprofitable zones within fields, Musselman stated during a guest presentation at a Soil Health Partnership field day on the Dennis and Dan Roehrborn farm in central Sheboygan County.
AgSolver bases its approach on a sub-field concept, creating up to 6,000 individual data sets per field to create a picture which depicts differences in agronomics, Musselman explained. He noted that much of the information needed to make those calculation is already being generated by current management practices.
What AgSolver calls Profit Zone Manager is a web-based program which can be used by agricultural service providers, suppliers of retail products, land managers, farmland owners, agricultural lenders and insurance agencies, Musselman said.
Using the 2016 data which predicts the likelihood of a lack of profitability on approximately 20 percent of Iowa's corn acres, Musselman said growers have several alternative choices. One is the already existing practice of gearing inputs to the yield potential at specific locations in order to generate profits or limit losses, he noted.
Another option is to enroll the unprofitable zones in the federal Conservation Reserve Program, thereby generating an income on those acres, Musselman pointed out. He suggested that some of those acres are along field edges, including locations next to bodies of water which are vulnerable to pollution from runoff that could be controlled with non-cropped zones.
In the larger picture, growers should realize that discontinuing the growing of corn on unprofitable land would cut into the excess inventory of corn which is proving to be a drag on corn prices this year, Musselman observed.
How AgSolver sees itself as differing from most current practices is that it does not strive for maximum yields per acre. It looks instead at what practices would provide for “the greatest profit on each unique part of the field,” according to the company's literature.
What AgSolver offers with its “management tool” considers machine data, a field level budget, profit performance by zone, automated interactive mapping, scenarios for alternative practices, and detailed reports for lenders, decision makers and customers.
All of that effort is aimed at presenting a business plan that is customized for individual fields and operations. More information is available at www.agsolver.com and profit.agsolver.com, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 515-203-3545 or 309-826-2697.