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7625. Willett, Gayle. 1989. How much fertilizer is needed to maximize profit?. Notes prepared for Extension training, Dept. of Agr. Economics,.
In Washington state, fertilizer represents 32% of the variable costs for winter wheat and 26% for spring barley. The paper discusses various strategies for growers to use in deciding on a fertilizer rate. This depends on their financial condition and their degree of risk tolerance. A Kansas study of 3000 dryland wheat farmers found that the 25% low income farms had 9% less yield than the 25% high income farms, even though production costs were almost double for the former. The low income farms spent nearly 4 times more for fertilizer. Yet, in general, the cost of underfertilizing is greater than the cost of overfertilizing. Profit maximization must also be tempered by external costs due to excess use of fertilizer. Several specific strategies are outlined for an individual to determine the optimum level of fertilizer.