CIG Retrospective Soil Health Economic Calculator - American Farmland Trust

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Retrospective Soil Health Economic Calculator

Access the Calculator

Fill out the form below for FREE access to the Row Crop and Almond Retrospective Soil Health Economic Calculator (R-SHEC) Tool and associated materials, known as the Soil Health Case Study Tool Kit. With this Tool Kit, you will be equipped to create your own case studies. Filling out the form will also allow us to contact you with updates to the Tool Kit.

The Retrospective Soil Health Economic Calculator (R-SHEC) Tool is an Excel-based tool for quantifying the benefits and costs experienced by already “soil health successful” producers. AFT has released a version for row crops and one for almonds.

The row crop version is designed to evaluate the economic effects of the following soil health practices:  no-till or reduced tillage, cover crops, nutrient management, and conservation crop rotation. The row crop R-SHEC Tool can be used on row crop farms growing barley, corn grain, corn silage, grain sorghum, hay, oats, soybeans, and wheat.

The almond version evaluates the economic effects of cover crops, nutrient management, compost application, and mulching. We define a “soil health successful” row crop farmer or almond grower as someone who has adopted any one or a combination of these practices, ideally for four or more years, and within the last 15 years.

The R-SHEC Tool employs partial budgeting analysis (PBA) to calculate change in net income due to the soil health practices. The calculator relies on user inputs and standardized cost and price information built into the tool. Data is collected through an interview with the producer using the R-SHEC Questionnaire.

The R-SHEC Tool was developed for use in Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic states but could be used elsewhere with price or cost adjustments as needed. Net income results are displayed in a PBA table on an annual basis per acre AND for the entire study area.

AFT used the R-SHEC Tool to develop the partial budget analysis for case studies of soil health successful farmers in California, Illinois, Ohio, and New York for a 2018-2021 Conservation Innovation Grant, “Quantifying the Economic and Environmental Benefits of Soil Health.” We are continuing to produce more case studies.

Predictive Soil Health Economic Calculator and Online Calculator are Underway

AFT is developing a Predictive Soil Health Economic Calculator (P-SHEC) Tool to use with “soil health curious” row crop farmers and almond growers who are “on the fence” about soil health practice adoption. The tool will help estimate the potential short-term and long-term costs and benefits of adopting soil health practices. AFT is testing the P-SHEC Tool with soil health curious farmers in California, Illinois, and Ohio.

AFT shared a preliminary version of the P-SHEC Tool Kit with registrants of a July 26, 2021, workshop at the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) Annual Conference. Since then, AFT agricultural economists and soil health scientists have been reviewing the P-SHEC Tool and analyzing additional datasets to increase the veracity of its estimates. Public release is delayed while this new work is underway.

AFT is also developing an online calculator that combines elements of both the Excel-based R-SHEC and P-SHEC Tools. While the Excel-based tools are meant to be used by conservation professionals, the online tool is meant for direct use by farmers and advisors. They will be able to use the online tool to conduct quick retrospective or predictive analyses to quantify the costs and benefits associated with past or future soil health practice adoption. We are pilot testing the online tool with farmers, their advisors, and ag conservation professionals in 2022. We hope to release the Online Soil Health Economic Calculator (O-SHEC) in 2023.


Contact Us

If you have questions about these resources, please contact AFT’s Soil Health Case Study project leader and Water Initiative director, Dr. Michelle Perez at For troubleshooting assistance with the R-SHEC Tool, please contact Ellen Yeatman, AFT’s water resources scientist and agricultural economist, at


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