Cover crop economics: Cover crop economics:

Cover crop economics: - PowerPoint Presentation

lindy-dunigan . @lindy-dunigan
Uploaded On 2015-11-21

Cover crop economics: - PPT Presentation

estimating a return on investment Liz Juchems and Jamie Benning Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy Voluntary sciencebased State goal of 45 reduction of Nitrogen N and Phosphorous P ID: 201007

soil cover tons reduction cover soil reduction tons acre land erosion crop nutrient crops cost acre1 ton sources point




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Cover crop economics:estimating a return on investment

Liz Juchems and Jamie BenningSlide2

Iowa Nutrient Reduction StrategyVoluntary, science-based State goal of 45% reduction of Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorous (P)Point sources achieve maximum biological removal rate: 4% N and 16% PNon-point source goal 41% N and 29% PSlide3

Cover Crops in the NRSSlide4

Nutrient Reduction Potential

31% reduction in nitrate29% reduction in phosphorusSlide5

Example: Combination Scenarios that Achieve N and P Goal From Non-Point Sources

From Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy: Goals for Nonpoint Sources is 41% reduction on Nitrogen and 29% reduction on Phosphorus 

Nitrate-N Reduction

Phosphorus Reduction

Initial Investment

Total Equal Annualized Cost

Statewide Average EAC Costs


% (from baseline)

% (from baseline)

(million $)

(million $/




MRTN Rate,

60% Acreage with Cover Crop,

27% of


land treated with wetland and 60% of drained land has bioreactor








95% of acreage in



34% of


land in

heavily tile drained land treated with

wetland, and 5% land







Cost of Cover CropsApproximately $30+ per acre for seed, planting, and terminationCosts offset by cost-share initiallyCan we estimate the value cover crops bring to the land?Slide7

How do you account for cover crop value in your operation?Slide8

Estimating the Value of Cover CropsEstimates of soil loss reductionsOn-farm research sites comparing cover and no-cover treatmentsSlide9

RUSLE2Input field management practices and compare cover vs. no cover treatmentsObtain soil loss in tons/acre/yearSlide10

Soil ErosionMost sites in this study are no-till corn-soybean rotationsInitial calculations range from 20-40% erosion reductions for the cover crop sitesSlide11

Value EstimatesEstimating change in land value and lost nutrients Based on protecting the soil from erosionSlide12

Soil ComparisonTama CountyTama 120C Tama 120C2Loss of 4” to change erosion phase 616 tons of soil per acreSlide13

Nutrient ValueTopsoil is the most nutrient rich horizonHigher OM=higher nutrient content and valueSlide14

AssumptionsNutrient value of soil just in the OM fraction ranges from $2-$10 per ton of soilIn land value change calculations, cost of soil erosion averages $0.49 per tonTim SmithSlide15

Cover Crop ScenariosScenarioNo

cover erosion rateCover crop erosion rateDifferenceValue of retained soil by cover crop use12 tons/acre1 ton/acre1 ton/acre$6.06/acre23 tons/acre1.5 tons/acre1.5 tons/acre$9.09/acre3

5 tons/acre

2.5 tons/acre

2.5 tons/acre


How long does it take to observe a return on investment in terms of soil quality, erosion reduction, or other factors?Slide17

Project Funding and PartnersState Soil Conservation CommitteePartnersUSDA-ARS National Lab for Agriculture and the EnvironmentPractical Farmers of IowaSlide18

Jamie Benningbenning@iastate.eduLiz Juchemsejuchems@iastate.edu