What is the value of the nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium that is removed when hay is baled and carried away from the field? In March, we looked at wheat straw nutrient removal^{1}, but the value of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium should also be considered in hay production.

Baling and removing 8,000 pounds of Bermuda grass hay over the course of a hay season removes 400 pounds of nitrogen (N), 90 pounds of phosphorus (P2O5), and 345 pounds of potash (K2O) per acre^{2}. Prices of $0.71 per pound of nitrogen, $0.73 per pound of phosphorus, and $0.61 per pound of potash^{3} were used to reflect the approximate value of the nutrients. The table below shows the value of the N, P2O5, and K2O removed on a per acre basis when 8,000 pounds of Bermuda grass hay is removed. The value of the nutrients removed by the Bermuda grass hay is $561.61 per acre per year. Or on a 1200-pound round bale basis, that value is $54.24 per bale. Adding the cost of baling (1200 lbs. round bale) of $14.50^{4} per bale and moving^{4} the bales out of the field at $4.35 per bale brings the total costs to $103.09 per 1,200-pound bale. Converting these values to a per ton basis (4 tons/acre), the nutrient value is $140.40 per ton, and baling and moving is an additional $31.42 per ton. The total per ton costs are $171.82.

It should be noted that this is just the value of N, P, and K, as there are some micronutrients that are removed as well.

There are caveats. The amount of hay harvested, costs of nutrients, baling and moving will likely be different depending on numerous factors, including location, yield, type of bales, the efficiency of the baler, and soil type. Check local resources in your area to estimate the value/cost of the nutrients and baling costs.

Information for the values included in this article can be found in the following resources.

1. https://southernagtoday.org/2023/03/29/wheat-straw-nutrient-removal/

2. https://www.aces.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ANR-0449.REV_.3.pdf

3. https://www.ams.usda.gov/market-news/production-cost

4. http://agecon.ca.uky.edu/files/custom_machinery_rates_applicable_to_kentucky_2022.pdf

N (Nitrogen) | P2O5 (Phosphorus) | K2O (Potash) | |

Pounds/acre removed | 400 | 92 | 345 |

Nutrient price/pound | $.71 | $.73 | $.61 |

Nutrient value removed | $284.00 | $67.16 | $210.45 |

Total Value of Nutrient Removal | $561.61/acre or $84.24/ 1200 lb. round bale |