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Planting season is upon us and quite a bit of corn has started to go in the ground here in Ohio. This got me thinking about a conversation between a product salesman and a farmer that I recently overheard. The conversation went kind of like this:
Salesman: I have something you need to try. It is going to make you more yield. I guarantee you will increase your yield over your neighbors, but we need to act quick if you are interested because we only received a small shipment of product.
Farmer: How much does it cost and what kind of yield increases are we talking?
Salesman: We are seeing an average of 2 to 3 bushel/acre increaes in corn and in some cases up to 5 bushels/acre. The cost is only $10 per acre and you just add it to your starter. So there is no hassle.
Farmer: Hmmm... I think I might want to give it a try. Put me down for x amount.
Salesman: Great!! Let's get you wrote up so we make sure to have product for you.
This is where I stopped listening and thought to myself, did this salesman really just make this sale? The first thing I did was ran the math in my head. The corn price on that day was $3.60 per bushel. So a 2 bu/a increase in yield only returns $7.20 and a 3 bu/a increase returns $10.80. So the bottom line is that one would need at least 2.78 bu/a corn yield increase to pay for this product. So while I probably made more yield, did I actually pay for the product? If I was guaranteed a 5 bu/a increase or my money back, then I may take that deal, but a 2 to 3 bu/a increase just to hopefully break even. That sounds like a risk I am personally not willing to take. Unfortunately, some of these sales guys are very good at what they do and could sell you your own shirt off or your back. It is all about trust and relationships. Can you trust someone who is selling you a product? I can't answer that for you, but what I can tell you is that you can trust third party, independent data. This does exist in form of independent crop consultants and/or programs like NutrientStar that try to truth many of the products that are being sold to producers. However, there are so many products on the market that it is hard to "truth" them all. Thus, if being sold something ask for the data. Have them show you yield increases, weather, soil types, if they have any third party data and the number of years the product has been researched. If not, challenge them to let you try this product with a money back guarantee. If they won't supply data or let you trial some product, then what are they trying to hide? Bottom line is that it is not all about yield, it is about ECONOMIC RETURN. Don't get caught up in yield game with your neighbors. Make more money than them by making smart investments. Seek out third party data, independent consultants, perform on farm-research, and collaborate with your neighbors on product research. We all stand to WIN if we work together. And always remember, at the end of the day it is about ECONOMIC RETURN (making money) not yield.