[Question:] "In the 40s, you know, when they changed from making nitrogen for bombs over to nitrogen for fertilizer, I have the impression that a lot of farmers got the fertilizer and just dumped as much as they possibly could on the field."
     "You know, I wasn't around in that time frame but I would understand, just due to the price or the cost. Right now that is one of the struggles in farming – you have to be kind of good at everything. I mean the efficiency that go along with being a little bit more efficient than everybody else at every level is what drives us to become a little bit better. So yeah, with fertilizer right now, you want to be pretty exact. It's not the ballgame of 30 years ago. We're making sure that we're putting on what the plants need…
     "We do soil testing every year. We used to do just a composite sample where you take a whole field. You take one sample and you send it in. And whatever you got back was what you would apply, accordingly, to the whole field. And now we've got into the grid sampling in which every two and a half acres will be a separate sample. And we won't do that every year but it kind of sets – It actually allows for a framework for what that farm is going to look like. And so we'll take a sample of two and a half acres versus 160 acres or 80 acres. And then with some fancy math, a computer can tell you exactly – can vary the rate going on the field.
     "That's where the GPS comes back in. It knows where the samples were taken and makes a prescription basically for your farm, saying, 'You need a hundred pounds here, 120 here and 105 here, 170 here.' And it just regulates it as you go."

Troy Otte – Fertilizer Efficiency


Excerpts from Troy Otte’s Interview:

Logic of Large Farms
Starting Up in the 80s
Why be a Farmer?
Who Runs Rural Communities?
Investing in Ethanol
Genetic Engineering
Are Pivots Worth the Cost?
Computers on the Farm