As in most analysis, the decision to apply conventional fertilizer or not is dependent on many factors
When visiting with cattle producers across southern Oklahoma and northern Texas, I often hear that commercial fertilizer is too expensive to purchase for their operations. These comments have come from both cow-calf producers and stocker operators. To help determine if fertilizer prices are pricing them out of the market, there are two options a producer can consider to see if they can afford conventional fertilizer.
Option one is to project what the profitability of the cattle operation would be if fertilizer is not applied and compare it with the profit that is typically generated when fertilizer is applied. Option two is to compare the profits when commercial fertilizer is replaced with alternative nutrient sources. These sources include feed yard manure, chicken litter or annually established nitrogen-fixing legume crops. Another way to offset fertilizer needs is to purchase feed and hay from off-site, reducing the need for additional standing forage.
Research has shown that each additional pound of nitrogen (N) applied will produce 30 additional pounds of bermudagrass, given that potassium (K) and phosphorus (P) levels are adequate.
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