Crops News

Crop rotation ROI calculator helps farmers with planting decisions


For years corn has held a profitability edge, making a corn-on-corn rotation a consideration for many U.S. farmers. Looking at 2021, Data Scientists at Granular have seen renewed optimism in beans due to recent market rallies, amping up the corn versus soybeans profitability debate for many farming operations.

After analyzing more than 10 million acres and corn-bean rotations for the past decade, Granular’s Data Science team created a proprietary Corn vs Soybeans Calculator to help farmers with their decision to rotate or not. It is estimated that around 20 percent of traditional corn acres remain undecided, and taking into account certain agronomic and geographical factors, optimal rotation for 2021 profitability may be different than recent years. By leveraging this free, simple to use digital tool, powered by Granular’s algorithms and data from local universities, farmers can get 2021 profitability estimates within minutes.

“Corn versus beans is a perennial debate, and we’ve put more than 1.1 billion pixels into this analysis, so we’re confident it’s thorough,” said Chris Seifert, Head of Digital Agriculture Data Science with Corteva Agriscience. “Because so many farmers still have acreage undecided for 2021, and we saw the highest bean prices in November since 2016, we created the Corn vs Soybeans Calculator to help them make data backed decisions on what’s right for their operation. At the end of the day, we want farmers to feel confident in their seed and input decisions for 2021, and using data can help give them that confidence.”

The differentiator between this calculator, and potentially others available, is that it is directly correlated with the millions of acres of continuous cropping data that helps Granular more accurately predict the potential yield penalty than existing research based on field trials alone. The digitization of data sets at scale gives the agriculture industry the opportunity to truly understand limiting factors toward profitability, and helps farmers understand how to achieve the greatest returns on their investments.

“We still debating rotating to soybeans or doing corn on corn on a few of our fields,” said farmer and Pioneer customer Andy Nordhues of Randolph, Neb. “We had strong corn-on-corn yields in 2020, but we’re certainly watching the bean markets. Having a tool to help me pull the numbers together and analyze trusted data trends to assist in making my decisions is definitely helpful.”

Farmers know that to ensure profitability they must meticulously track their numbers. For efficiency, having all of the farm data in one system that provides up to date insights and analysis allows farmers to understand field by field profitability.

The calculator accounts for the expected yield penalty for repeat crops (based on state) as well as the anticipated cost increase for the suggested mitigation strategies. Budget costs are calculated using numbers provided by local state universities, and the crop price is the prior day’s market closing cost, updated daily via Barchart.

Farmers can access the free ROI calculator on the Granular website. For farmers that want to dig even deeper into the agronomic and marketing factors impacting their rotation decisions, Granular has compiled expert insights from Pioneer Agronomy Manager, Matt Essick, and South Dakota Grain Merchandiser, Cullen Wilson.

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