Implications of High N Fertilizer Prices on Corn N Fertilizer Recommendations

Nitrogen fertilizer is a major cost in corn production and is a big lever that drives yield. However, not every pound of N fertilizer yields the same return on investment. The first several dozen pounds applied to a corn crop yields large returns in grain, with subsequent pounds still offering returns, but not as effective as before. As N fertilizer rates approach what would be typically applied to corn (150 – 200 lbs N/acre), each additional pound returns less and less and eventually reaches a point where the small increases in grain yield does not pay for the additional pound of N fertilizer applied.

This is not a hypothetical. It’s the normal. It’s what we see year after year in the majority of N rate trials we run across the state. And that’s why Land Grant Universities in the Midwest have universally adopted an economic model to N fertilizer rates in corn. It’s called the maximum return to nitrogen (MRTN) because it seeks to do just this, provide a rate where you will get the greatest return to your N investment and therefore grow the most profitable corn possible.

So what is the magic peak where adding an additional pound of N fertilizer doesn’t pay for itself? It depends of course! It depends on the current price of corn grain and N fertilizer. As fertilizer prices increase, the peak comes at lower N rates. But as grain prices increase, the peak comes at higher N rates. Both fertilizer and grain prices are higher than they’ve been in some time, so they work against each other in terms of increasing or decreasing the N fertilizer recommended rate.

Table 1 shows the price of nitrogen fertilizer at various costs per pound and the equivalent per ton price of two familiar nitrogen sources used in Ohio. Table 2 shows Ohio recommended nitrogen rate for corn following soybean at various price combinations for corn and nitrogen. First, select the nitrogen price (column), then select the corn price (row). The cell where the selections intersect is the recommended nitrogen rate.

With current fertilizer and grain prices, our recommended corn N rates are 15-20 lbs/acre less this year than they have been in years past. This might cause some growers to pause and consider if this is really a good idea, but if you want to maximize your profitability, lower rates will ensure you’re not applying additional fertilizer that isn’t yielding a high enough return to pay for itself.


Table 1. Price per Ton of Anhydrous and 28% UAN at Various Price per Pound of Nitrogen Fertilizer Costs.

  Price of Nitrogen Fertilizer ($/lb)
N Source $0.45 $ 0.55 $0.65 $0.75 $0.85 $0.95 $1.05
82-0-0 $738 $900 $1066 $1230 $1394 $1558 $1722
28-0-0 $252 $308 $364 $420 $476 $532 $588


Table 2. Ohio MRTN recommended Nitrogen Rates (lbs nitrogen/acre) for Corn following Soybean based on the Price of Corn Grain and Nitrogen Fertilizer.

  Price of Nitrogen Fertilizer ($/lb)
Price/Bushel Corn $0.45 $ 0.55 $0.65 $0.75 $0.85 $0.95 $1.05
$4.50 180 169 159 150 143 136 129
$5.00 185 175 165 157 149 142 136
$5.50 190 180 171 162 155 148 142
$6.00 195 185 176 168 160 153 147
$6.50 200 188 180 172 165 158 152
$7.00 200 192 184 176 169 163 157


Valuing Bedded-Pack Manure

Author(s): Glen Arnold, CCA
Manure as a nutrient sourceManure as a nutrient source

Due to the increase in fertilizer prices, there is renewed interest in the nutrient value of manure. This article will discuss bedded-pack manures that involve straw, sawdust, or wood chips to absorb moisture. The nutrients and organic matter in pen-pack manure are an excellent addition to farm fields.

The most common types of bedded manure are beef, dairy, and sheep or goats. Small ruminant bedded pack manure contains the most nutrients per ton followed by beef manure and dairy manure.

Pen-pack manure contains the macro nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash along with a host of micronutrients. The nutrient content can vary depending on species, feed products fed, and the amounts of straw or sawdust used for bedding. The farm’s manure handling and storage practices also impact the nutrient content of manure. Manure stored under roof will usually maintain a higher nutrient value than manure exposed to rainfall.

Pen-pack manure nutrients are measured as pounds of nutrient per ton of manure. Typically, the nitrogen content will be 10 to 16 pounds per ton. About two pounds of this nitrogen is in the ammonium form and the remainder will be in the organic form. While ammonium nitrogen is immediately available to a growing crop, organic nitrogen takes time in a field to mineralize and become available over three or four years. The phosphorus content, in the P2O5 form, will usually be from 6 to 12 pounds per ton. The potash content, in the K20 form, will usually be between 10 and 15 pounds per ton.

Applying pen-pack manure can be more precise if you know the application rate being applied in tons per acre. If you are unsure how many tons per acre your solid manure spreader applies there is a simple way to make a determination. Make a tarp that is 56 inches by 56 inches (21.8 square feet). Fasten it to the ground with weights on the corners and apply manure across the tarp. Fold up the tarp and weigh the manure captured. Many people use a bathroom scales for this. One pound of manure captured on the tarp is equivalent to one ton of manure applied per acre. Thus, if you captured 10 pounds of manure the application rate was 10 tons per acre.

We always want to keep water quality in mind when handing manure. The goal is to make good use of the manure nutrients and keep the manure nutrients out of streams and ditches.

For more information about how and when to sample manure, Penn State Extension has a good publication available on-line at

Native Plants and Every Gardener’s Role in Fostering Biodiversity

Tending Nature

Native Plants and Every Gardener’s Role in Fostering Biodiversity

Register Here

This 6-session webinar series will focus on the ecological roles of native plants and some of the creatures that depend on them. We’ll meet virtually at 10AM EASTERN each Friday for 6 weeks from January 7th through February 11th.

Check back for speaker links, resources and recordings (when available).

January 7th

Mary Gardiner, The Ohio State University professor and author

Beneficial Insect Biodiversity: What It Is and Why It Matters


January 14th

Doug Tallamy, University of Delaware professor and author

Bringing Nature Home: The Importance of Native Plants


January 21st

Lisa Olsen, Wild Ones

Cultivating a Community of Support for Native Plants


January 28th

Bryan Danforth, Cornell University professor and author

Host-plant Specialist Bees – Biology, Biodiversity, and Conserving Them in Your Backyard


February 4th

Heather Holm, Biologist and author

Bumble Bee Banquet: Selecting Native Plants for Bumble Bees


February 11th

Debra Knapke, Garden designer and author

Native Plants in My Garden? Absolutely!

New OSU Maple Syrup SHOP

We are excited to have a new maple shop up and running on the Woodland Stewards website.  The new shop gives us a few new features to track orders and supplies a bit better.  The 2021 syrup run is all bottled and waiting on your orders as the Holiday season approaches.  We have 1/2 pint glass bottles available in addition to pint, quart, half gallon, and gallon (gallons by request only) available in jugs.

I am happy to report that syrup sales placed 2 part-time students and a full-time recent graduate in the field throughout last winter’s sugaring season.  From both a production standpoint (how the maple syrup is produced and hands-on learning of that process) and research standpoint (how to ask good research questions and how to set up experiments to get answers), each student had an incredible enriching experience thanks to your support of the program.

December Ohio Maple Days & Grading Workshop

Don’t forget to register for the Ohio Maple Days meeting scheduled for December 11 in Ashland.  We have a limited number of seats, so don’t delay too much in getting in those registrations.

We are also excited to host a syrup grading workshop on Friday, December 10th.  Please consider making a couple days of it to participate in both the workshop and the main event on Saturday.  Registration for the syrup grading workshop is on the Woodland Stewards website.

See you there!

Woodland Boundaries Zoom

Our final A DAY in the WOODS program for 2021 “Woodland Boundaries” will take place on December 10, at 10 am to 11:15 via Zoom Webinar.   This program will be presented by Mark Rickey, State Service Forester with ODNR-Division of Forestry, and Dave Apsley, Natural Resources Specialist with Ohio State University Extension. Join us on December 10 to:

  • Learn about the importance of woodland boundaries and why it is important to maintain them.
  • Get tips on how to seek and find evidence of their location.
  • Understand how you can mark and maintain your boundaries to make them more recognizable.
  • Learn the importance of boundary line trees and evidence, and how they should be treated
  • Know when it may make sense for you to reach out to a professional land surveyor for assistance.
  • Get access to a new series of videos on Woodland Boundaries that were produced to assist Ohio’s family woodland owners.

To register for this Zoom Webinar visit:

Managing Increasing Crop Input Prices

Author: Andrew Frankenfield Extension Educator – Agronomy Penn State

Probably every cost in your 2022 crop budget will increase. Fertilizer, seed, fuel, chemical and land rent are all on the rise. Is there still an opportunity to make a profit in corn, soybeans and wheat in 2022?

Updated: November 17, 2021

Managing Increasing Crop Input Prices

Harvesting Corn. Photo by Andrew Frankenfield

Price and availability of crop inputs for the 2022 growing season continue to be in the spotlight and do not show any signs of coming down anytime soon. Barry Ward, Leader of Production Business Management at Ohio State University Extension recently posted a podcast on The Ohio State University Extension Agronomy and Farm Management page that was titled: Rising Input Costs. This article reviews what him and his team at Farm Office project for the 2022 crop year.

Fertilizer continues to be a moving target; nitrogen prices have doubled since last year. Anhydrous ammonia is now over $1,000 per ton and UAN and urea are also up 100% or more from last year. MAP and DAP have increased nearly 100% and Potash is up over 133%.

Current data (October 11th) suggest fertilizer expense will account for 18% of projected revenue in 2022. While up from recent years, fertilizer’s financial burden was at a high of 20% in 2015, due to lower commodity prices and yields. Photo Source: Michigan Farm News “Five charts to keep higher fertilizer prices in perspective.”

Fuel price is another topic that has wide reaching impact on the cost of production. Fuel as a line item in a budget isn’t in the top five however it does have an impact on nearly every cost in the budget.

Crop protection chemicals are another hot topic in the news. Ward suggests budgeting at least 50% more for these products in 2022 compared to 2021. Will there be shortages in glyphosate and other popular chemicals? That remains to be seen.

Many farmers are wondering what are the best purchasing decisions to make. Generally, don’t make any drastic changes with your buying habits. If you normally buy UAN in the fall and take delivery over the winter, that would probably be advisable. If you prepay most of your seed, go ahead and do that. Price is one concern, but availability of product is the other. If you have the fertilizer and seed you need for 2022, that may help you sleep better at night knowing you have the actual product. One word of caution-if you buy herbicide traited seed, it would be advisable to also get the herbicide to use on that crop as well to ensure you will be able to fully utilize the technology you paid for when purchasing the seed.

So how is the 2022 budget looking? In short, not as good as 2021 but there is still an opportunity to lock in profit. Costs in corn and soybean budgets are up around 21-22% and wheat costs are up around 30%, but those increased costs are offset by corn in the $5’s, soybeans in the $12’s and wheat in the $7’s. As you make purchases on your 2022 inputs don’t forget to price a percentage of your 2022 grain, especially when prices are at a level you expect to be profitable.

One cost I haven’t mentioned is land rental rates. High land charges can really take a chunk out of the return to labor and management if you don’t have a high yield to back it up. Once again it comes down to yield, price, and costs, it is just now a lot more money changing hands and the stakes are higher.

I encourage you write up a production budget. If you need a sample, there are numerous budgets online from various sources.

Ohio State University Extension Enterprise Budgets

University of Illinois Crop Budgets

Some Dates to Remember

OSU Extension Morrow County will be offering the following pesticide and fertilizer re-certification classes this winter.  Please call our office if you need to get Re-Certified.

January 12 from 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

February 14 from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

March 23 from 5:30 – 9:30


On February 2nd from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm OSU Extension will be hosting at the Ag Credit building a Weed University.  There will be pesticide credits available.  In this class you will be learning about the hard to control weeds, weed identification, sprayer calibration and much more.   More details to come.

February 15th @ 6:30 pm Beef Quality Assurance re-certification and Certification.

February 21st @ 6:00 pm Master Gardener Training recruitment class.  If you are thinking about becoming a Master Gardener Volunteer join us on this evening to learn more about the program and the training.

February 24th Ladies on the Land class includes the following.  Registration details will be coming soon.

Do you own, lease, or manage land?  Would an increase in confidence, improved communication skills, and helpful resources allow you to better navigate farmland leasing issues?  If so, join this interactive farmland leasing workshop developed for women involved in all stages and aspects of agriculture!

Registration includes all materials and lunch. Workshop topics cover:

Assessing the risk-reward continuum for tenants and landowners

Farmland leasing best practices

Enhancing communication skills

Developing equitable rental rates

Answers to your questions and concerns

March 12th Small Farm Conference at Mansfield OSU more details to come

March 15th @ 6:30 pm Beef Quality Assurance re-certification and Certification

If you would like to become involved with the Morrow County Cattlemens, Morrow County Pork Producers or the Morrow County Farm Bureau they would like to invite you to one of their monthly meetings.

Cattlemens the first Wednesday of the month @ 6:00 pm

Pork Producers the second Thursday of the month @ 7:00 pm

Morrow County Farm Bureau the second Tuesday of the month @ 7:00 pm

I’m taking recommendations for educational classes to offer the community.  If there is something that you would like to learn more about that is AG, Nat. Res. or Horticulture related please send me the topic and I will put in on my list of classes to offer.

Hope to see you at up coming event.

Have a Great Thanksgiving