American Farmland Trust (AFT) and partners developed fifteen compelling and easy-to-read, two-page soil health economic and environmental case studies featuring “soil health successful farmers.” These case studies can be used by farmers and the greater members of the farm conservation community to learn about the costs and benefits of adopting soil health practices and the potential for a return on investment. In turn, the information gives farmers confidence to adopt soil health practices to lessen agriculture’s impacts on water resources, address climate change, and increase farmer resilience and viability.
The original eight case studies (published between 2018 and 2021) feature almond farmers in California, corn-soybean farmers in Illinois and Ohio, and diversified crop farmers in New York. AFT developed the methods and analysis for producing these case studies with support from a 2018 USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant. All case studies undergo review by NRCS economists and soil health specialists and are co-branded with NRCS’s logo. Producers were interviewed using AFT’s Retrospective Soil Health Economic Calculator (R-SHEC) Questionnaire and Excel-based Tool to gather the quantitative data needed to answer the research question, “Do the on-farm benefits of adopting a soil health practice outweigh the costs?” See the Soil Health Case Studies Methods to learn more.
Finally, in 2022, AFT published the first case studies using a different method and dataset, the Cornell Dairy Farm Business Summary (DFBS) survey long-term dataset, featuring Mulligan Farm and Table Rock Farm of New York. AFT will publish more case studies featuring dairy farmers who provide data annually via the DFBS survey to answer the research question “Can soil health practices be adopted while improving or maintaining economic performance?”. For more information about this method, find the Cornell DFBS Working Papers on AFT’s Genesee River Demonstration Farms Network website.