Project at a Glance

Farmers face increasingly erratic weather conditions while constantly trying to cut costs and improve profits all while responding to society’s call to reduce unintended water quality and climate issues associated with agriculture. 

Many farmers believe the scientific evidence that soil health practices improve soil and water quality. However, they are reluctant to change management techniques without knowing how much the soil health practices will cost or benefit them. So, AFT found “soil health successful” producers and conducted benefit-cost analyses. 

AFT used partial budget analysis to estimate the net economic benefits that farmers have experienced from investing in soil health practices (e.g., no-till, reduced tillage, cover crops, conservation crop rotationnutrient management, conservation cover, compost application, and mulching). AFT’s Excel-based Retrospective Soil Health Economic Calculator (R-SHEC) Tool helps users conduct a partial budget analysis comparing farmer costs and benefits before and after practice adoptionWe also used USDA’s Nutrient Tracking Tool and USDA’s COMET-Farm Tool to quantify the water quality and climate benefits of these practices. 

We’ve produced two-page case studies that we hope will be useful to farmers and landowners who are curious about soil health practices; to give them confidence that investing in the practices is worth the risk.  

AFT offers free access to the case study tools and materials used and associatedtraining documents for the conservation community to produce their own case studies in their own area in the Soil Health Case Study Tool Kit 

This project is supported by a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant and the case studies are co-branded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.