Wheat School: Doing the math on 2021 straw value
Should growers sell their wheat straw after 2021 harvest?
That’s a question RealAgriculture agronomist Peter Johnson has been asked often in recent weeks. With fertilizer prices up 125 per cent and straw prices hovering around three cents per pound, many growers say they would rather blow the straw back on the field, take the nutrient credit and return the organic matter rather than sell at that price.
But before making their final decision, Johnson is asking growers to follow his thought process and consider selling. In this episode of RealAgriculture’s Wheat School, “Wheat Pete” notes that the total value of macronutrients —phosphorus, potash, magnesium, sulphur and nitrogen — as well as the micronutrients, is only about one cent per pound.
Johnson concedes that straw does return valuable organic matter back to the soil; however, he points out that living roots are even better for soil health. That’s why he would rather sell the straw and use part of the proceeds to finance planting a cover crop that will create even more roots in the soil.
Johnson notes that returning straw to the field can also create residue problems when it’s not spread evenly. He thinks three cents is enough to justify the sale. “If it gets the residue out of the way and it will make you plant a cover crop — sell the stinking straw!”
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