If you thought inputs for this year’s crop were expensive, you’re not going to like what experts predict it will cost to buy fertilizer next spring. In fact, they say, brace yourself for fertilizer prices like those experienced in 2009.

According to the farm gate blog, current prices, as reflected in forward contracts researched by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, will push fertilizer costs over the $162 per acre mark for 2012. (For a look into historic fertilizer prices and usage, check out these data from the USDA Economic Research Service.)

Even with these cautionary input cost projections, you will still have opportunities to get better prices if you pay attention to the market. Gary Schnitkey, University of Illinois ag economist told the farm gate blog to watch the changes in the delivery price for nitrogen, and particularly the April price for nitrogen.  He says, “The contract price in July 2010 for fall delivery was $215 higher than the April 2011 cash price. Over these three years (2008, 2009 and 2010), the contract price was $500 higher, $120 lower, and $215 lower than the April price.” 

For livestock farmers, climbing fertilizer prices once again highlight the value of manure. Make sure you give proper credit to this resource. And consider new processes and technologies to take full advantage of manure in crop fertility plans.

Meanwhile, as you prepare for next year’s crop and evaluate your budget it’s critical that you evaluate your specific fertility needs and measure your yield increases against your fertility program to help refine your actual needs, concludes Stu Ellis, farm gate blog editor.