With the added macroeconomic and environmental challenges farmers are faced with today, landowners, ag lenders, and crop insurers are turning their attention on conservation practices adoption as an avenue rife with opportunity.
The 2018 “Farm Finance and Conservation” report from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and K·Coe Isom showed that farmers who implemented conservation practices received returns in the form of reduced monetary and time costs, higher or more stable yields, and increased resiliency to weather variability.
The report observed that farmers who adopt conservation practices such as no-till, nutrient optimization, cover crops, and diverse rotations improved their profitability and were more resilient.
“If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you,” Keith Alverson, sixth-generation South Dakota farmer and National Corn Growers Association board member
According to Alverson, the report takes an honest look at the economic viability of on-farm conservation, and demonstrates that conservation and profitability can, and should, go hand in hand.
Alleviating potential risks
It is important to acknowledge that while the costs of transitioning to conservation management practices have previously been a barrier to widespread adoption, there is new guidance available from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program at the USDA on how to minimize both the costs and risks – ideal for farmers who might be reluctant to any risk in the current economic climate.
Cover Crop Economics: Opportunities to Improve Your Bottom Line in Row Crops [PDF] describes seven different management scenarios in which farmers can speed their transition to cover crops and achieve profitability more quickly — in some cases within the first year of adoption. The bulletin focuses on addressing cover crop adoption, as well as how the crops can be integrated with other opportunities or challenges on the farm, providing a holistic overview of the adoption decision.
Should you have any questions about conservation options, adoption, risk management, or viability for your operations, K·Coe Isom has experts in crop operation management, conservation, and sustainability that can help. Contact a K·Coe advisor to learn more.