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Economics of Soil Health Evaluated on 100 Farms by the Soil Health Institute and Cargill

Soil health systems increased net income for 85% of farmers growing corn and 88% growing soybean

Published 03-09-21

Submitted by The Soil Health Institute

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., March 9, 2021 /CSRwire/ – Improving soil health can help farmers build drought resilience, increase nutrient availability, suppress diseases, reduce erosion and nutrient losses, and increase economic benefits according to recent Soil Health Institute research. “In addition to benefiting farmers and their land, many soil health management systems also benefit the broader environment by storing soil carbon, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and improving water quality,” says Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO, Soil Health Institute (SHI). “However, investing in soil health is also a business decision, and information regarding the economic benefits of adopting soil health practices was limited until the Institute’s recent evaluation.”

To address this information gap, Cargill and SHI partnered to assess the economics of soil health management systems and provide farmers with the economic information they need when deciding whether to adopt regenerative soil health systems. 

SHI researchers interviewed 100 farmers across nine states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Tennessee) who adopted soil health systems to acquire production information such as tillage practices, nutrient management, pest management, yield changes, and others. Dr. Archie Flanders, SHI Agricultural Economist, then evaluated the on-farm economics using partial budget analysis. A detailed description of the partial budget methodology used can be found on the SHI website: https://soilhealthinstitute.org/economics/. In this approach, the costs and benefits of a soil health system are compared before and after adoption of that system.

KEY FINDINGS:

From the data collection and analysis across all 100 farms, SHI found that soil health management systems:

  1. Increased net income for 85% of farmers growing corn and 88% of farmers growing soybean,
  2. Reduced the average cost to grow corn by $24/acre and soybean by $17/acre, and
  3. Increased net farm income by an average of $52/acre for corn and $45/acre for soybean.

“In addition, 97% of the farmers we interviewed reported their soil health management system increased crop resilience to extreme weather,” said Dr. John Shanahan, Project Manager for the study.

“There has been growing awareness and interest among farmers in soil health. Increasingly, they are looking for a more robust picture of the long-term benefits soil health management systems can provide,” said Ryan Sirolli, Global Row Crop Sustainability Director at Cargill. “We’re encouraged by the work the Soil Health Institute has done to provide additional quantitative evidence to demonstrate the economic benefits of adopting soil health management systems. These results further our confidence that agriculture is how farmers can become more resilient and profitable while making a positive impact on the environment.”

“To get information into the hands of farmers that is most relevant to them, we are presenting results for each individual state using webinars and fact sheets,” said Dr. Honeycutt. “The webinars will cover the highlights and give farmers an opportunity to ask questions, while the fact sheets will provide a bit more detail for their particular state. We are inviting as many state-based, ag-related organizations as we can find and asking them to please forward the invitation to all farmers on their mailing list.”

The following schedule will be used for the state-by-state webinars that occur weekly from March 18 through May 13. Registration is free but required to participate. All who register will receive that state’s fact sheet.

Iowa

Webinar scheduled for 3/18, 1 p.m. Central Time (CT)/2 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). Register here:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Ncr9yx7pTzShHS3bt7UdnA

Nebraska

Webinar scheduled for 3/25, 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET. Register here:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_PdIECNp5SZyD4Zwwao7Mug

Tennessee

Webinar scheduled for 4/1, at 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET. Register here:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_vRljwTSbTyOliJ3unc_ndQ

Illinois

Webinar scheduled for 4/8, at 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET. Register here:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ZdRZImQIR6uKSMx2X2lK5A

Indiana

Webinar scheduled for 4/15, at 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET. Register here:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_nJGr_884RmKqLkiQdM0jfw

South Dakota

Webinar scheduled for 4/22, at 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET. Register here:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_2hUHlnuBTYCwEQXLEZ2yzQ

Minnesota

Webinar scheduled for 4/29, at 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET. Register here:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_dK2yawGvQJCjn4BRpxJ_cg 

Ohio

Webinar scheduled for 5/6, at 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET. Register here:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_hUOxZ44NSoKJbq1k0lO2Ow

Michigan

Webinar scheduled for 5/13, at 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET. Register here:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ZAWeUa4TR7i8egq8bky5GQ

For further information, visit www.soilhealthinstitute.org.

About the Soil Health Institute

The Soil Health Institute is a global non-profit with a mission to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement. We bring together leaders in soil health science and the industry to help farmers, ranchers, and landowners adopt soil health systems that build drought resilience, stabilize yields, and benefit their bottom line, all while benefiting the environment.

The Institute’s team of scientists, holding doctorates in various soil science and related disciplines, has developed highly effective soil health targets and standardized measurements to quantify progress at achieving regenerative and sustainable agricultural systems, and leads the cutting-edge fields of carbon sequestration and decoding the soil microbiome. 

Healthy soils are the foundation for rejuvenating our land. Together, we can create a secure future for all, mitigate the effects of climate change, improve water quality, and help agriculture and organizations meet production and environmental goals at scale. 

Visit soilhealthinstitute.org to learn more and follow us on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.

About Cargill

Cargill's 155,000 employees across 70 countries work relentlessly to achieve our purpose of nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. Every day, we connect farmers with markets, customers with ingredients, and people and animals with the food they need to thrive.

We combine 153 years of experience with new technologies and insights to serve as a trusted partner for food, agriculture, financial and industrial customers in more than 125 countries. Side-by-side, we are building a stronger, sustainable future for agriculture. For more information, visit Cargill.com and our News Center.

FOR INFORMATION:

Byron Rath, Sustainability Specialist, brath@soilhealthinstitute.org 718.916.3822

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The Soil Health Institute

The Soil Health Institute

The Soil Health Institute's (www.soilhealthinstitute.org) mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement. An evolution of the Soil Renaissance, an initiative established in 2013 by the Noble Foundation and Farm Foundation to advance soil health and make it the cornerstone of land use management decisions, the Soil Health Institute serves as the primary resource for soil health information.

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