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Producer 2 – Glacier County, Montana

  1. Mean annual precipitation: 10 to 14 inches.
  2. Soils: clay loam.
  3. Dry land cropland spring wheat.
  4. This is the first year of variable-rate application of fertilizer and the month of July was hot and dry which affected yields on all crops.

Before variable-rate fertilizer application:

  1. Applied 70 pounds of fertilizer with the drill.

With variable-rate fertilization application:

  1. Producer paid $3,600 for zone development by a Technical Service Provider (TSP) on 521 acres for a cost of $6.90 per acre.
  2. The cost of variable-rate fertilization application was $4.00 per acre which was the same as before.
    a. Broadcast 104 pounds of 46-0-0 ($330 per ton).
    b. 70 pounds applied with the drill.
  3. There was no change in the yield as compared to fields without the variable-rate application of fertilizer. Protein was 0.5 percent higher. In previous years there was a premium of $.02 per quarter percent increase in protein when the grain was sold.
  4. The re-crop yield was 21 to 22 bushels per acre. Yields after chemical fallow were 29 and 33 bushels per acre depending on the variety. The one variety was susceptible to sawfly damage.
  5. Purchased a used Global Positioning System (GPS) guidance system that could be used in the tractor or combine for $6,700. The yield monitor on the GPS-guided combine gathered yield data that the TSP would use to print out a map showing yield variation for an additional charge of $1.00 per acre. The producer used their own software to print out the map.


  1. Cost of zone development of $6.90 per acre.
  2. Increased fertilizer cost of $17.16 per acre.
  3. Protein increased 0.5 percent (25 bushels times $.04 per bushel = $1.00 per acre).
  4. Cost of GPS guidance system ($6,700) which can be used for all farming operations.
  5. No yield change which can be partially related to the hot weather in July.

Suggestions for program improvement:

  1. Producer felt it was a worthwhile conservation initiative.
  2. Increase the payment for zone development.
  3. Reduce the payment for variable-rate fertilizer application.