Wednesday, November 9, 2016

reThink Soil: A Roadmap to U.S. Soil Health

We just released a new report on the potential benefits of adoption soil health practices in the U.S., and the conclusions are pretty exciting! You can read a brief overview, the executive summary, and the full paper at Much of the analysis was done by consultants we worked with, but I provided lots of scientific guidance and review throughout the process.

The web page has a good summary of some of the key points, but to put it even more succinctly, we argue that the adoption of three soil health practices (no-till, cover crops, and crop rotations) on U.S. row crops could have massive benefits both to society (e.g. improved water quality, reduced GHGs) and to the farmers implementing them (reduced soil erosion, improved soil quality and resilience).

For instance, if half of the farmland used to grow corn, soy, and wheat were to adopt all three practices, it could generate $7.4 billion in total benefits, and if all the farmland for those three crops adopted them it could be $19.6 billion (note that it's not double because some farms already use some of these practices). If you take the more optimistic upper range of our estimates, total societal benefit for 100% adoption of all three practices could be $49.8 billion. A lot of the science is uncertain, so these estimates are rough but we drew on the best available data to come up with them, and we are confident that the magnitude of the opportunity is valid even if the exact numbers are off.

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