The Emperor’s Clothes and How Farmers Can Use Regenerative Agriculture to Battle Rising Input Costs
By Dan Schultz | September 23rd, 2022
There’s an old story about an emperor who was fooled by two cunning thieves pretending to be tailors.
As the story goes, these con men convinced the emperor that their clothes were so delicate and light that they could seem invisible, but those who were intelligent could see them - only the foolish saw nothing.
When the invisible garment arrived for the emperor, he could still see nothing. Not wanting to appear a fool, he praised the fabric and called it marvelous.
They all stood around and praised the invisible fabric and its magnificent colors.
The emperor decided to take a walk through the town in his new clothes, where subjects dutifully played along with the magnificence of his new outfit…
Finally, a child cried alarmingly, “The emperor is naked!”
Soon, everyone began to murmur this truth. The emperor immediately ran back into the castle and was incredibly embarrassed.
Much like the child in this story, we are here to say that the emperor is naked; these input prices are unsustainable, yield averages are not keeping up, and profitability is getting squeezed.
It is long past time to consider alternative methods.
Rising Inputs, Shrinking Yields
In April, a study from Purdue University concluded that farm input prices increased 15.6% from 2021 to 2022, with certain nitrogen prices spiking by as much as 300%.
“Farmers we talk to across the country have been concerned,” said Jason Hobson, CEO of AEA.
In a recent report from the Department of Agriculture, one grower predicted that his yields might fall short of last year by as much as 50% due to droughts in his area and how much less nitrogen he can afford to put down.
Cotton and vegetable grower James Johnson, from Columbus, NM, reports, “Inputs were up close to 250% in my area on fertilizer. Many of my grower friends are having a challenging year, and some even gave up on planting certain crops for this year.”
A New Way Forward: The Regenerative Approach
The current forecast seems bleak, but we believe that there are ways we can change that.
Our goal is to partner with growers looking for a better way to grow and be financially profitable; we aim to provide a pathway to transition from the conventional paradigm of agriculture to a regenerative approach.
"Since the beginning, we have always said that we don't guess; we test. It is that type of scientific approach that drives everything we do and recommend," said Hobson.
The team at AEA takes a systems approach to soil management and plant nutrition. This comprehensive nutrition plan considers long- and short-term soil and crop needs.
"We believe that this is the way forward for agriculture — an approach that is good for the land, good for the grower, and good for the consumer," said Hobson. “Our most important in-season tool is Plant Sap Analysis, which helps us understand what is happening with the nutritional integrity of your crop throughout the season."
Plant Sap Analysis provides AEA the opportunity to determine, then apply the precise amount of a needed nutrient before a deficiency manifests as a disease or weakness. This allows AEA consultants and growers they serve to solve problems and achieve higher quality and yield levels proactively.
“The two conventional approaches to crop production are to over-apply due to a lack of data or to pull back due to rising application costs,” said Hobson. “We believe that both of these approaches are inefficient and extraordinarily expensive. If we do not know exactly what our plants need, we end up paying for our inputs twice, once when we buy the product, and again in reduced yields and quality.”
As growers face the seemingly impossible decision between paying astronomical prices for inputs and sacrificing yields, the team at AEA insists that there is a third, better way: to test.
James Johnson reports, “AEA taught me that one of the biggest things we can do is cut out unnecessary inputs. Especially in fertility, there were lots of inputs we were applying because it was what dad did and granddad did, and it doesn't have to be that way”.
AEA’s biological and mineral nutrition products are made to be used inside of a regenerative system to improve crop quality, yields, and disease and insect resistance while regenerating soil health.
Thanks for reading!