Economic Costs and Benefits of Soil Improvement Practices
CSANR Project 132
The proposed study will address the priority topic area of biologically-intensive and organic approaches to sustainable management of soil quality, particularly focusing on the economic valuation of soil improvement practices. To do this, we will combine information from producer focus groups, a literature search, and field measurements to estimate the benefits and costs of soil improvement practices. Three soil-improvement approaches will be analyzed: adding soil amendments (e.g. compost, manure); using cover crops/green manures; and high residue farming and reduced tillage. Three focus groups will be held that cover these approaches, with at least 4 producers participating in each group. This will provide information on the cost and benefits of these practices. Following the focus groups, a literature search will determine the ranges and relevant factors for the producer-identified benefits. These benefits will also be verified through paired field sampling on up to 12 farms where various measures of soil quality will be measured on fields with and without soil improvement practices. Using the collected information, we will conduct an economic analysis utilizing gross margin and investment analysis approaches to provide growers with an estimate of the value of various soil improvement practices for different crops and soils. The results will be incorporated into both a peer-reviewed paper and an Extension bulletin. Finally, the results will be disseminated through presentations and a soils conference.