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The profitability of variable rate lime in wheat

Mills, Brian E., Wade Brorsen, B., Arnall, D. Brian
Precision agriculture 2020 v.21 no.2 pp. 369-386
crop rotation, forage production, grain yield, liming, prices, profitability, soil sampling, wheat, Kansas, Oklahoma
Grid sampling allows a variable rate of lime to be applied and has been marketed as a cost saver to producers. However, there is little research that shows if this precision application is profitable or not. Previous research on variable-rate lime has considered only a small number of fields. This paper uses soil sampling data from 111 fields provided by producers in Oklahoma and Kansas. The 5-year average net present values are compared between variable-rate and uniform-rate lime for grain-only wheat production, dual-purpose wheat grain and forage production, and a wheat–soybean rotation. Sensitivity analysis was done for varying grain prices as well as grain yield potential. When using historical average yields and recent prices for Oklahoma, variable rate was not profitable on average for these 111 fields for either a grain-only, dual-purpose, or wheat–soybean production. However, when yield or prices were above average, variable rate was profitable. Thus, variable rate liming can be profitable for these fields, but it requires either above average yields, a high value crop, or above average prices.