As small grain harvest in South Dakota is occurring, crop producers are being contacted by livestock producers about purchasing the straw either in the field after right after harvest or already baled by the crop producer.  Trying to figure a value that is fair to both the crop producer and the livestock producer takes some calculations.

The crop residue fertilizer calculator was designed to help producers dealing with high‐priced fertilizer prices who are looking at the cost of removing crop residues for livestock use. This calculator can be used by both the crop and livestock producers.

Crop producers can use the calculator when considering selling the crop residues or entering into contracts with livestock producers.

Livestock producers interested in putting up their own crop residues for later feed use or purchasing crop residues can use the calculator to help figure the value of the residue. It is not designed for livestock producers who plan on grazing crop residues.

The calculator is based on SDSU plant science research conducted from 2004 to 2006. The research looked at corn stalks, soybean residue, and wheat straw in fields using recommended fertilizer application. Using the calculator, a producer enters the current fertilizer costs per ton, and it figures the loss of fertilizer value due to crop residue removal based on crop yield.

Here is the SDSU Extension Economics website where you can download the 2012 Crop Residue Value Calculator (Excel spreadsheet) and the User Guide (PDF).

There are tables that show the value based on different yields and amount harvested. Producers that have already baled the crop residues should add costs of putting up and hauling the crop residue to arrive at a total cost of removing the residues. Those costs will be different whether putting up small grain straw, soybean residue, or corn stalks. To figure those costs, Iowa State University publishes a yearly custom rate guide and is available at:

Source: Donald Guthmiller