Person holding clump of soil with earthworm

A One-Stop Shop for Research-based Resources about the Profitability of Conservation Ag Practices

With all the buzz about soil health, regenerative ag, and climate-smart, farmers want to know how practices such as cover crops and no-till pencil out. While data on the financial impacts of conservation practices are still emerging, there is a growing collection of research that is establishing a knowledge baseline.

Now, a good portion of this research can be found in one place with the launch of the Conservation Economics & Finance Resource Hub. It is a collection of case studies, reports, and other research-based materials that have examined the profitability of conservation practices on farms within the North Central Region of the United States.

“Farmers and ranchers are looking for financial data to help them make profitable investments in conservation,” says Vincent Gauthier, Manager for Climate Smart Agriculture at Environmental Defense Fund who helped pull together the collection. “The research contained in this resource hub can help farmers’ closest advisers and financial partners support producers in achieving profitable conservation outcomes.”

The intention behind the resource hub is to equip farmers’ key advisors – including conservation professionals, crop educators, farm business management educators, and agricultural lenders – with information that can help them support farmers in making decisions that will improve their operations’ sustainability and profitability.

The resources cover four major in-field conservation practices: cover crops, conservation tillage, nutrient management, and managed grazing. They represent research from multiple sectors, including academia and Extension, nonprofits, USDA, and multi-sector collaborations.

“Current research on the economics and profitability of adopting conservation techniques exists, but it has not been made easily accessible for farmers, ranchers, and their key advisors,” said Lauren Manning, formerly a Senior Associate at Croatan Institute and another project collaborator. “Having a centralized place to access such research is an important step to getting this knowledge in their hands.”

Housed within the Soil Health Nexus, the resource hub is a product of a collaboration between the North Central Region Water Network, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension, University of Minnesota, Environmental Defense Fund, Croatan Institute, and Compeer Financial. Their work was supported by USDA-NIFA’s North Central SARE program, project number ENC21-206.

The team invites additions to the resource hub. If you have produced or know of a relevant resource, please contact Jenny Seifert at

The launch of the resource hub is the opening act for a set of trainings about the financial impacts of conservation practices for conservation professionals and farm business management educators, to take place in July.

Header photo credit: NRCS/SWCS photo by Lynn Betts

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