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 row crop farmers interested in adopting soil health practices. The tool will help predict the potential long-term costs and benefits of adopting soil health practices (no-till, reduced till, cover crops, and nutrient management). In January 2024, AFT will start piloting the tool with farmers in Iowa, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.

AFT is using innovative research techniques to estimate the relationship between increasing soil organic matter in response to soil health practice adoption and how that affects crop yield. Using a combination of crop yield, soil, and weather data, we created a model to predict the estimated change in yield from soil health practices 10 years after adoption at the county level for certain states. This research will be combined with cost data to create the foundation for our Excel-based P-SHEC tool.

The first stage of the tool will focus on rainfed corn, soybean, and wheat producers. We look forward to adding additional crops and benefit categories in the future to help more farmers better understand the potential costs and benefits of implementing soil health practices.

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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