soybean and grassland fields

Every Acre Counts: A program of South Dakota State University Extension

On-Farm profitability is strongly influenced by climate, natural resources and land management choices. Climate variability and natural resource availability are basically uncontrollable; however, on-farm land management can be adapted to its best use and improve the natural resources sustainably.

Natural resource conservation is a very important part of on-farm land management. The unpredictability of water availability from year to year has made soil water management a very important land management decision for South Dakota producers. Overabundance of water in combination with crop rotations that have short term crop water use can result in rising water tables contributing to increased saline and sodic soils, as well as increased area of wetlands. Poor soil health resulting from increased intensive tillage results in more water run-off and erosion that degrades other water bodies. The wrong land management decisions in these situations can lead to variable profitability within the field level.

The Every Acre Counts program out of South Dakota State University Extension will help agricultural producers improve profitability, diversity, and ecosystem benefits of agriculture by using precision technologies to empower producers to make informed land management decisions for every acre of their operations.

The expected outcomes and impacts of the program will be to provide profitable land management information to producers that will allow them to increase their return on investment on more profitable acres. The Every Acre Counts program will also increase and improve the sustainable use of land, soil, water, and other natural resources.

Map of South Dakota with specific counties highlighted

Map of Every Acre Counts primary focus counties

Anthony Bly, Extension Soils Field Specialist and Matt Diersen, Extension Risk and Business Management Specialist, are leading the program at SDSU. Over the last nine months they have been developing the program to ensure it will: 1) identify marginal lands through the use of precision profitability analysis software, 2) provide assessments of marginal lands converted to perennial species or cover crops in comparison to non-converted lands, 3) conduct evaluations of landscape effects on soil health and water quality resulting from conversions of marginal lands, and 4) provide incentive payments and financial assistance for plant species selection and seeding.

Bly and Diersen are in the process of recruiting farmer participants who will provide precision farming data (yield monitor and other variable rate inputs), variable input costs and access to treated areas for applied research purposes. The program will follow a working lands concept that allows producers to use enrolled acres for forage and grazing purposes.

To date, Bly notes that he has data from two farms and have several other producers lined up to participate with the goal of bringing an improved understanding of marginal land use for increased profitability, improved natural resource conservation and better soil health to producers and land owners in South Dakota and the neighboring region.

Anthony Bly, South Dakota State University Extension

Headshot of Anthony BlyAnthony Bly is a Soils Field Specialist with SDSU Extension and assists crop producers and agronomist with soil issues through education activities developed from soil and crop research. Anthony’s knowledge areas include soil fertility management, soil testing, soil health and others that influence soil properties and crop productivity. Previously, Anthony was employed by the SDSU Plant Science Department as a Research and Extension Associate from 1992 to 2011. Between 2011 and 2013, Anthony provided the technical expertise in helping launch a soil, plant tissue and manure testing lab located in Sioux Falls (AgLab Express). Anthony holds a BS (88) and MS (92) degrees in Agronomy with a soils emphasis from SDSU.

Matt Diersen, South Dakota State University Extension

Headshot of Matt Diersen

Matthew (Matt) Diersen earned a B.A. degree in Economics at the University of Minnesota – Morris, an M.S. degree in agricultural economics at North Dakota State University and a Ph.D. in agricultural economics at the University of Illinois. He teaches courses in agricultural finance and commodity marketing, complementing his scholarly work focused on pricing mechanisms. His SDSU Extension programming focuses on the interaction of commodity marketing and insurance tools and on changes in the agricultural economy. He actively shares commodity market and agricultural sector analysis with producers, lenders, and the agribusiness community in the northern plains.

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