; Reducing risk of conservation practices: informing farmers about conservation investments | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Reducing risk of conservation practices: informing farmers about conservation investments

Vincent Gauthier and David Ripplinger


Adopting new management practices comes with risk — especially practices that are long-term investments. In-field agricultural conservation practices including conservation tillage, cover crops and efficient nutrient management continue to show low adoption rates, in part due to the risk their adoption presents to farmers. Unlike conventional production practices, financial information on cover crops and other conservation practices remains limited. This lack of information increases risk conservation practices present to farmers. Over the past few years, organizations including Environmental Defense Fund have conducted farm budget case studies to identify the financial outcomes of adopting conservation tillage and cover crop practices. However, these studies are not enough, and the information is not usable for farmers facing different soil and growing conditions. We need more regional and targeted financial information for these practices. As a first step towards this goal, Environmental Defense Fund developed a practitioners guide to conducting budget analyses for conservation agriculture in collaboration with USDA NRCS, Precision Conservation Management, Soil Health Partnership, Field to Market, American Farmland Trust and others to inform extension economists and other farmer advisors about the importance of conservation-specific financial information and best practices to gather that information. In this presentation, we will outline the importance of gathering financial information for conservation practices to help reduce risk to adoption, outline the best practices and engage participants on how to implement this data gathering into their farmer data and education programs.