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Case Studies: Economic Benefits of Applying Soil Health Practices

Introduction

With soil health management, producers can increase profits and reduce costs and risk all while conserving our nation's resources for the benefit of all.  However, the extent of these economic benefits has not been consistently quantified – a major  constraint to soil health management adoption identified as a priority by NRCS and  many of its customers.

We hope that farmers who have been considering adding soil health practices to their operation will use these case studies to make better business decisions as they invest in healthy soils, and to start a dialog with landowners about sharing the risks and rewards of soil health investments. We believe our staff and partners can use these case studies to help answer customers’ questions about the costs and benefits of adopting soil health practices.

Background

Funded by an NRCS’ Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) awarded in 2018, American Farmland Trust (AFT) and NRCS have started to release a series of Soil Health Economics case studies. USDA and NRCS have invested in the people and  tools that provide these quantitative assessments. AFT utilized this infrastructure to show the economic benefits across a broad sampling of farming operations and worked closely with NRCS Economists & Soil Health Specialists  to review these case studies. In addition to the funding for the project, USDA and NRCS resources were further leveraged:

Florence Swartz is AFT’s Project Economist and served as the NRCS New York State Economist, where she developed two well-received soil health economic case studies that have since been used as the template for the AFT project.

USDA’s Nutrient Tracking Tool was utilized to determine water quality benefits of the adopted soil health practices.

NRCS’ COMET-Farm tool was used to determine the greenhouse gas emissions reductions from the soil health practices.

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Jim, Julie and Josh Ifft 
Ifft Yorshires
Illinois
(Corn/Soybeans)

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Dan Lane 
Homewood Farms
Ohio
(Corn/Soybeans)

 

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John and Jim Macauley 
Macauley Farms, LLC
New York
(Beef/Crop Farming)

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Tom and Dan Rogers 

California
(Almonds)

 

 

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Eric Neiemeyer 
MadMax Farms
Ohio
(Corn/Soybeans)

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Raul Sauter 
Okuye Farms
California
(Almonds)

 

 

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Larry, Adam and Beth Thorndyke 
Thorndyke Farms
Illinois
(Corn/Soybeans)

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Jay Swede
Gary Swede Farm LL
New York
(Sweet corn, Alfalfa,
Corn Silage, Grain Corn)

 

 

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