This fall has been an especially glorious time! Yes, the leaves have been spectacular. Yes, the leaf-peppers have been out in force – and spending more hard-earned money at farm markets and agritourism businesses. And, yes, the weather has been great for fall tasks. And fuel prices have been falling faster than temperatures. But that’s not what I want to bloviate about.
Any day now, you should be receiving American Agriculturist’s November issue. And inside, we featured the crop nutrient that’s only recently gained renewed respect -- manure. It’s substantially undervalued compared to commercial fertilizer. That means it’s a good buy – if you can pay the freight to get it to your cropland.
And since the Northeast’s livestock and poultry produces so much of it, it gives Northeast producers a major cost advantage over parts of the country that don’t have as much opportunity to catch the fresh scent of newly spread manure. Teaming up manure nutrients with the region’s great ability to produce forage feedstuffs, plus cereal crop potential and cover crop payments also give the region some key advantages.
This fall, many dairy farmers have been able to take an extra crop of alfalfa or grass-legume mixes. That’ll help substantially reduce purchased feed costs. I’m also seeing more livestock producers trying new forage “quick crops”. Sad to say, but: Necessity is still the mother of invention – and innovation.
Looking ahead, it’s safe to figure that at least purchased nitrogen costs are going to follow oil, heating oil and natural gas prices downward into winter. So now may not be the best time to lock in nitrogen prices – not with recessionary economies all around the world.
What’s “bloviate” mean? Just remember the word “bloat”. You’ll figure it out.