Dr. Archie Flanders: Identifying Costs and Benefits of Soil Health Management Systems

Research indicates that soil health management systems (SHMS), which include reduced tillage and incorporating cover crops with production of cash crops, decreases soil erosion, improves water infiltration, increases soil carbon, and reduces inputs that can have potentially adverse environmental impact. Encouraging production practices that improve soil health includes demonstrating that individual farm profitability is increased by adoption of SHMS.

Partial budget analysis is a farm management analytical method in which comparative financial returns are determined by quantifying the net effect of only specific proposed changes in production.

For example, converting from conventional tillage without cover crops to no-till production with cover crops will eliminate field activities that impact associated costs. A partial budget analysis will account for the cost of cover crop seeds and costs associated with planting and terminating the cover crop, all of which are specific to the change of adding cover crops to the management system.

The partial budget methodology presented demonstrates procedures for quantifying changes in production costs associated with adoption of SHMS. The Soil Health Institute has ongoing projects applying partial budget analysis to research plot trial data as well as case study farm data, Dr. Flanders said.

For more information see our video below: