Profitability maps help farmers sift unproductive acres from productive land, says Jeff Nesbitt, president of Precision Partners, a Fergus Falls, MN, precision farming firm.

For a cost of $3 to $5/acre, these maps devised by Precision Partners combine yield maps with input costs to detect field profitability. The firm has been using these maps for approximately a year.

“It’s another dimension of information,” Nesbitt explains. “We can see how much a farmer is making on his wheat crop compared to his soybean crop. We can also see if a field is making money, and even if a producer should be farming the land.”

This tool builds upon information that farmers have already gleaned from yield monitors, says Tom Frappier, a Pioneer Hi-Bred International field sales agronomist based in Fargo, ND. Information from the use of these technologies has caused some farmers to scale back their operations.

“They will be farming 80 acres, 20 acres of which are unproductive, and ask themselves why they are farming it,” Frappier explains.

Both Nesbitt and Frappier say that productive land still rents and sells well. But some producers are passing on low-quality acres.

Though farm size has grown vastly in the past five to ten years, some expansion-prone farmers aren’t expanding their income, Nesbitt says. Because additional acres cut into family time, farmers are less willing to spend time and money on acres that do not pay.

Farmers who use tools such as profitability maps and yield monitors can quickly determine which acres are not producing a profit.

“They can rent land for two to three years and find out if it’s productive,” Frappier says. “If it’s unproductive, they can then try to find better ground.”

Besides saving producers time and money, profitability maps also may ease stress, Nesbitt says. “We can bring the farmer a final report so he can make a management decision without going through the time and trouble of managing yield monitor data,” he says.

For more information about profitability maps, contact Precision Partners Inc., Box 463, 127 S. Mill St., Fergus Falls, MN 56538, 218/998-2278, or e-mail jeffn@precisionpartners.com.