Economics of Nutrient Application
Part 1, Section 2: Soil Fertility Management
Soil Fertility Management
Economics of nutrient application
Ideally, soil should be managed to maintain an adequate supply of nutrients to meet crop needs. The highest total profit per acre and the lowest cost per unit of crop produced result at recommended application rates as maximum plant yields are approached. However, if resources are limited, low to medium application rates provide the greater plant response and often the greatest economic return per dollar invested. As application rates increase, the plant response per unit of nutrient applied decreases, as does the economic return per unit applied, and at some point other factors may become limiting—adding plant nutrients in amounts beyond those required for maximum plant growth in a given situation will produce no plant growth response or positive economic return. Nutrient recommendations provided here for agronomic crops in Pennsylvania are based on research to estimate the amount of a nutrient needed to ensure economically optimum crop production. As the economic conditions change (e.g., nutrient or crop prices change), the recommended amount of nutrients may also change.