The profitability of farming in any given year depends on a great many factors. Some of these are within the grower’s control – practice choices, selected cultivar, planting dates, etc. However, many of these factors are not within the control of the grower, like weather and commodity prices.
So how are sustainability program advocates, trusted advisors, grower networks, and co-ops to confidently promote and invite growers into their programs? They want to have confidence that their program and practice recommendations are going to create positive impacts – from proven ROI to operational profitability to measurable improvements in soil health and yield – for the farmers who rely upon them.
One goal of growers is to maximize yield while reducing input costs and improving the ground.
The ROI of regenerative agricultural practices such as conservation tillage, cover cropping, crop rotation and input management have been well studied and documented.
FBN found the ROI of reduced tillage can immediately be $10 per acre per year, while cover cropping can yield an ROI of $10 – $35 per acre per year and nutrient management (reduced P, K and N) typically yield an ROI of $18 – $50 per acre per year over an average 5 year span.
Another study, published in Environmental Research Letters in 2019, found that yield penalties in conservation tillage practices are “rare or minor” and an average 3.3% and 0.74% yield increase for maize and soybeans, respectively, was achieved with multi-year adoption of conservation tillage. They also write that, “In addition to positive effects on soil quality, conservation tillage is typically associated with lower production costs due to reduced machinery, fuel, and labor requirements. Conservation tillage can also reduce supplemental water requirements and field fallowing frequency, enabling increased crop production over time.” all of which create a stronger ROI and profitability story for growers and their trusted advisors. (Source: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab503b)
These ROI benefits are separate from any incentive program that may also be in place to help growers fund the transition to regenerative practices, mint verified carbon credits, or help reduce Scope 3 emissions for downstream buyers.
But buried in the data and statistics is a wrinkle that every farmer will already realize and many businesses may not: every field and every year is different.
While regenerative farming pays off in aggregate, there is still risk, fear, uncertainty, and doubt faced by each farmer, each sustainability program advocate, and each agronomist trusted advisor each year.
The ability to see precisely how past practice impacted yield in each field, farm and supply shed is a core feature of CIBO Impact. Seeing how regeneratively farmed fields compare to conventionally farmed fields in exactly the same area is a core feature of CIBO Impact. Seeing into the future to predict what yields and soil health might look like if different combinations of regenerative practices, crops, planting dates, or weather conditions is a core feature of CIBO Impact.
Taken together, these abilities allow us:
- To see historical practice to yield correlations
- To compare fields and supply sheds and see practice, CO2e, and yield differences (see our previous blog post on this topic here)
- To see into a set of predicted futures to glimpse what yields and soil health might look like
All features help remove the uncertainty for trusted advisors and growers to make the most informed decisions about adopting regenerative agriculture practices on their farms, for their acres and for their families.
Let’s take a closer look at how these insights come to life in CIBO Impact and how they can be used to help grower networks and co-ops create meaningful, positive choices for the growers who rely on them by taking the uncertainty out of regenerative practice adoption.
Because each parcel of land is different, it makes sense that an agronomist, trusted advisor, land manager or grower will want to know how a practice change will affect their operation, not just how the practice works in general. CIBO Impact delivers scaled insights that equip advisors, growers, and enterprises with exact information on how a practice has historically affected that land and how a practice change may affect that land in the future.
CIBO Impact is able to show clear correlations between practices and yields and CO2e impacts at both field and supply shed scales. Cash crop, cover crop, yield, and tillage information is automatically detected by CIBO Impact without any need for input from the farmer (only confirmation at program enrollment). Equipped with such information, an agronomist, trusted advisor or large grower network can create a persuasive case for enrollment in programs that incentivize the new adoption of these practices. They can show that such practices on specific, similar, and nearby land result in yield boosts.
While other factors—such as weather—have big impacts on yield, most of those factors are out of grower and advisor control. CIBO Impact delivers scaled analysis insights for what is in the grower’s control and balances out the results accordingly.
Similarly, CIBO Impact equips program proponents with future-forecasting capabilities to see what might happen in the future as compared to what did happen in the past for different sets of practices. CIBO Impact’s Carbon Lab™ can be run on one or many fields at the same time. Program advocates and advisors can compare regional practices against actual, regenerative or conventional practices and see the likely outcomes for soil health and carbon sequestration.
By comparing the actual detected practices from the past and running them into the future, and then comparing these to adoption of regenerative practices also run out into the future, agronomists, trusted advisors and program advocates sharing opportunities with growers in their network can deliver confidence that regenerative practices, on these fields, will likely result in lower operating costs as evidenced by decreased diesel use and decreased N2O flux, most often associated with decreased promiscuous application of N on corn and increased soil carbon.
Each field or group of fields will be different. The actual detected practice data, yields, and future-looking predictions for CO2e will, of course, be different for every farm, field, and operation. CIBO Impact delivers detailed visibility and power to sustainability program advocates, trusted advisors, grower networks, co-ops and even growers themselves to create a compelling, persuasive framework that drives the decision to enroll confidently in sustainability and regenerative programs.