November 29, 2021

Financial incentives for conservation practices

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Midwestern farmers can soon earn compensation for conservation practices thanks to a new partnership between the Illinois Soybean Association, the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

ISA and other partners are recipients of an $8.5 million Regional Conservation Partnership Program Alternative Funding Arrangement award courtesy of NRCS. This award is one of 15 projects funded nationwide.

ISA will work in partnership with Indiana Soybean Alliance, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, ReHarvest Partners, Nutrien Ag Solutions and PepsiCo to produce water quality and climate outcomes resulting from new conservation practice implementation on 70,000 acres annually in 2022 and 2023.

At this acreage, the project estimates the following environmental outcomes over the project period: 1.82 million pounds of nitrogen reduction, 112,000 pounds of phosphorus reduction and 105,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents sequestration.

The project will replicate and scale up the ongoing Soil and Water Outcomes Fund approach to producing environmental outcome.

In 2021, the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund conducted a pilot project across 20,000 acres in Illinois. RCPP funding will be used to pay for the verified water quality outcomes while partner contributions from Nutrien Ag Solutions and PepsiCo will pay for the verified carbon reductions from enrolled cropland.

Created jointly managed by the Iowa Soybean Association and Washington, D.C.-based Quantified Ventures, the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund uses investment capital to compensate farmers for positive environmental outcomes generated by conservation-oriented practices on their farms, specifically water quality improvement and enhanced carbon sequestration. These outcomes are independently quantified and then purchased by government entities and private corporations.

“Navigating this space through a partnership with the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund and USDA is a unique opportunity to understand how farmers are able to participate in an ecosystems market while ensuring their needs and the principles behind sustainable farming practices are put first,” said Abigail Peterson, ISA director of agronomy.

“We are looking forward to this new partnership and being able to bring the opportunity to not only our Illinois farmers, but to farmers across the Midwest.”

More information about the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund can be found at