# Soil Health #Follow
New Corteva survey reveals farmer sentiment on soil health practices and carbon credit program
−− Carbon programs could be the financial incentive needed to scale adoption of cover cropping and/or reduced tillage; Farmers indicate the ability to earn upwards of $40/acre as turning point in decision-making
Sep. 1, 2021
According to a new Corteva Agriscience survey of 600+ row crop farmers across 26 U.S. states, soil health practices continue to gain traction. Sixty-six percent of farmers report they have already implemented soil health practices such as using cover crops and/or reduced tillage that would qualify them to enroll in most carbon programs.
Even as soil health practices become more widespread, farmer participation in carbon programs remains relatively low. While seventy-two percent of respondents are aware of carbon offerings, only three percent are enrolled in a carbon sequestration program. Many farmers indicate that they would consider a carbon program if the payout per acre reached $20; however, it isn't until the payout per acre would reach an estimated $40 that the majority said they would commit to participation in a program. A recent Purdue study highlights that farmers need to be incentivized to adopt practices and join a carbon program.
Forty-four percent of farmers who have not already adopted these practices report increased interest in on-farm stewardship during the past five years. Lack of access to necessary equipment and services, as well as concern about return on investment, were cited as the biggest barriers to practice adoption.
“We always start with the agronomy to make sure practices are a good fit,” said Ben Gordon, Portfolio Lead, Carbon Ecosystems and Services, Corteva Agriscience. “Carbon programs can help to offset the costs of new practices to further drive farm profitability and stewardship outcomes.
“The data shows that many farmers are interested in these practices and will adopt them with a higher payout,” added Gordon. “As an industry, this means we must work to remove barriers to increase practice adoption and provide farmers with holistic solutions such as carbon programs to drive prices toward that $40 level and beyond.”
Other key insights from the Corteva Agriscience survey demonstrate how price points, barriers to entry and trusted advisors are important factors for farmers when considering carbon programs.
The majority of farmers don’t believe that a carbon program sounds appealing until they can get paid at least $40/acre to participate, confirming a recent Purdue article about what farmers would need to switch from conventional tillage to no-till.
Familiarity with carbon programs
Seventy-two percent of survey respondents said they had heard about carbon programs but didn’t know much about them. Twenty percent are actively looking into and evaluating such programs. Three percent are currently enrolled in one.
Almost two-thirds (sixty-six percent) of respondents already utilize cover cropping or reduced tillage on at least some of their acres.
Barriers to adoption of soil health practices (cover crop and reduced tillage)
The biggest barriers to planting cover crops and/or use of strip or no-till are lack of access to necessary equipment or custom applicators, as well as concern that they may not see a return on investment.
Barriers to enrollment in a carbon program
In most cases, payment/acre as it stands today will not cover their costs to implement the required practices to become eligible for a carbon program.
The individuals who have the most influence on farmers’ decisions related to planting cover crops or implementing strip or no-till are consultants/agronomists, other farmers and family.
Interest in on-farm stewardship and conservation issues
Fifty-eight percent of 617 survey respondents said they have become more or much more interested in on-farm stewardship and conservation in the past five years (forty percent no change, two percent less interested)
Among non-adopters of cover crops or reduced tillage, forty-four percent said they have become more or much more interested in on-farm stewardship and conservation in the past five years
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Trust in Food™ from June 4, 2021 - July 31, 2021. In total, 617 U.S. row crop farmers in 26 states completed the survey. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey results, visit granular.ag/carbon-survey. To quickly see what farmers could earn through a carbon program in a specific area, use this Carbon Credit Calculator.
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