Yield is NOT King.

There’s more to it than that.

My Conversations with Farmers at every farm show usually consist of talk about yields. Usually, I try to steer them away from strictly yield talk when discussing equipment and their perspective benefits, as yield does not tell the whole story.

It seems as time goes on, farmers focus on yields more and more, always chasing the highest numbers. But, looking at your farm from a “Yield-is-King” perspective is short-sighted.

A farmer needs to consider these aspects before thinking about yield:

  1. Operating Costs – Ask yourself: “Will the choice I’m making result in average yield increases large enough to offset the operating cost difference?”

Many farmers fail to figure their operating costs into their farming decisions. It’s about the bottom line, not maximum yield. If taking a 5 bushel to the acre hit can save you the equivalent of 10 bushels to the acre in cost, then it’s worth it.


  1. Fixed Costs – Ask yourself: “Will the choice I’m making result in an increase in fixed cost that outweighs the yield gain?”

Many farmers may not realize how many bushels to the acre that 400-600 horsepower tractor sets you back by increasing your fixed costs. If you buy new or larger equipment, make sure the yield gains will be larger than the new increase in your fixed costs.


  1. Soil Devaluation – Ask yourself: “Will the choice I’m making improve my soil?”

Many farmers do not think about their land as an asset. Why not do all you can do to improve it? Your soil is either deteriorating and eroding, or you are building soil health and soil structure. Don’t think about soil health the way your dad and grandpa did, look at the research. Conventional tillage is killing your soil.


What we are seeing across the country is a race for the highest yields, regardless of effects on operating costs, fixed costs, and most importantly, soil health. Every one percent of soil health improvement will increase yields, and every decrease in operating and fixed costs make the profits on those yields higher. Look at every University study, listen to every scientist – they all preach minimum tillage. Yields increase, costs decrease, and the farmer is money ahead. Just go do a simple Google search. You won’t find a single article promoting conventional tillage. Not one. I know, because I tried to, and failed.

Next time you’re thinking about purchasing new equipment, new attachments, or changing your farming strategy, consider the costs for both your pocketbook and your soil.

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