October 16, 2021

Economics of soil health: Study shows economic benefits of soil health practices

LINCOLN, Neb. — Soil health systems increased net income for 85% of farmers growing corn and 88% growing soybeans, according to an evaluation from the Soil Health Institute and Cargill.

The project was conducted to provide farmers with the economic information they need when deciding whether to adopt soil health practices.

One hundred farmers across nine states, including Indiana, were included in the study. An economist evaluated their on-farm economics using partial budget analysis.

The 16 farmers interviewed in Indiana grew crops on an average of 3,473 acres, using no-till on 88% and cover crops on 79% of those acres.

“Well over 90% of those growers indicated that they reduced their fertilizer costs,” said John Shanahan, agronomist at Soil Health Institute. “All of the growers indicated their cropping systems were much more resilient.”

Many mentioned they were able to access the field much quicker after a significant rain event compared to a conventional field.

The current adoption rates of no-till, at 41%, and cover crops, at 8%, in Indiana indicate that more farmers may improve their profitability by adopting soil health management systems.

Learn more at www.soilhealthinstitute.org.

By The Numbers

100 — Number of farms assessed.

97% — Reported increased crop resilience to extreme weather.

85% — Net income increased for 85% of farmers growing corn and 88% of farmers growing soybeans.

67% — Reported a higher yield than their conventional system.

$24 — Reduced the average cost to grow corn by $24 per acre and soybean by $17 per acre.

$52 — Increased net farm income by an average of $52 per acre for corn and $45 per acre for soybean.

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor