Report on Financial Benefits of Soil Health Practices

Here’s a report that shows the financial benefits of soil health practices.

Bottom line, the beneficial financial impact pencils out over a six year period.

However, on Iowa’s harvested cropland, only

  • 4% was cover cropped
  • 4% had crop rotations
  • 34% was no-till

If these practices improve soil health and, over the medium-term, have a positive impact on a farm’s bottom line, why is there not more widespread adoption?


Practical Farmers of Iowa surveyed 251 farmers in 2019, and 497 farmers in 2020, to measure cover crop seed, application, and herbicide costs and how the farmers minimized other operating costs since adopting cover crops.

The transition pencils out over a six year period with cost savings and additional revenue offsetting added cover crop expenses.

As opposed to an organic transition budget, in which increased costs are offset by the organic premium price, the return on investment in a soil health transition budget comes from a combination of reduced costs from no-till and decreased herbicide that offset the added costs of cover crops, in addition to longer term yield resilience as soil health builds over time.

EDF has created an interactive Microsoft Excel spreadsheet outlining the six-year enterprise transition budget for a corn-soybean operation for use by farmers, lenders and other farm financial partners. You can download it here.

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