One of the questions I have been asked most often in recent years in regards to soil and plant health concerns the use of fungicides. The other day a client asked, “Do fungicides work?” When I answered in the affirmative, he asked, “Does using them make money?” The answer: Maybe. Utilizing fungicides to make more money for your crop is not a sure bet. There are so many variables to consider that there is no one correct answer. In this encounter with my client, he described to me his experience in 2015, when the fungicides he used merely paid for themselves. Well, that’s not why we are in this game.
Cost and Benefit Analysis
The first step in assessing whether to use a fungicide is to do a cost/benefit analysis. This simply means you figure the product and application costs and compare them to the increased production you can expect. From a manufacturing perspective, if costs and added production are equal, an activity is considered worthwhile. However, farming is not a factory. Because a farm would also shoulder the handling, storage, and delivery costs, just adding extra product at breakeven values ends up being a loss.
Climate and Weather Patterns
It’s also important to consider your local climate and weather patterns. Do you live in an area of high or low humidity? Does your location experience high or more moderate temperatures? What have been the recent weather patterns since planting? Being totally aware of weather patterns does not guarantee accurately predicting potential fungal infection; however, it may give insight into potential severity. If you are choosing to utilize fungal technologies, making the application at the proper time will help you get the most for your money.
Optimize Plant Health
The goal of utilizing fungicides is to optimize plant health to keep your crop alive and thriving for as long as possible, giving the plant more opportunity to produce. The first step in safeguarding plant health, however, is to build a healthy and biologically active soil. Healthy soil has the ability to grow healthier plants and keep them going strong longer than depleted soil.
There is no one right answer to whether fungicides will enhance your farm’s profitability. However, planting in healthy soil is the foundation for growing abundant crops. Fungicides should be used as an enhancement to aid plant health—not a primary tool for growing healthy crops.