The per-unit costs of agricultural production inputs such as feed, fertilizers, crop chemicals, and seed also vary widely due to production systems. For instance, a corn farmer might have nitrogen fertilizer costs of $50 per acre while a soybean farmer down the road might have no nitrogen fertilizer costs due to a legume's ability to fix nitrogen. Crop chemicals such as herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides are applied on an "as-needed" basis and applications vary widely from farm-to-farm, and from crop-to-crop. Seed costs tend to vary based on conventional or biotech varieties. For instance, farmers may pay an average of $200 per bag of seed corn for a non-GMO seed and around $300 per bag of GMO seed. (*1) While seed costs vary by the type of seed, per-unit costs vary somewhat less across types of crops. For instance, a more expensive bag of seed corn would plant about 2½ acres, while a less expensive bag of soybeans would plant about an acre.
In addition to land, machinery, fertilizer, crop chemicals, and seed, farmers face costs for buildings, grain handling facilities, hired labor, fuel for vehicles, heating, and conditioning crops, livestock, feed and veterinary care for the livestock, taxes, crop insurance, property insurance, and the list goes on. All of the expenses add to the challenge of remaining profitable and economically viable for the long term.
"Purdue Agriculture News." Ag Economist: Seed Prices Going Up, but so Will Revenues. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2012. <http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2012/Q4/ag-economist-seed-prices-going-up,-but-so-will-revenues.html>
US. USDA. National Agricultural Statistics Service. Farm Production Expenditures 2011 Summary. N.p., 8. Aug. 2012. Web. <http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/FarmProdEx/FarmProdEx-08-02-2012.pdf>.