Top soil health tools recommended by Cargill agronomists
Our agronomists have compiled some of their favorite tools to consider when implementing soil health practices such as cover crops and reduced tillage.
When you implement new soil health practices, such as reduced tillage or cover crops, it is important to make sure you are equipping yourself with the resources needed to make an informed decision. Reducing tillage, whether minimizing the number of passes or completely cutting out a piece of equipment, will impact how much you spend. This is the same for evaluating whether it is time to get a new piece of equipment like a strip till machine or a vertical till machine.
You can treat cover crops in the same way. There are many factors to consider as you look to address soil health goals such as increasing organic matter and reducing erosion or weed pressure with cover crops. One of these considerations includes the cost to seed a cover crop yourself compared to hiring for it.
As you implement new soil health practices it is key to remember that, just like every other industry, all prices are subject to supply and demand. This means that you should begin price comparisons for cover crop seed earlier in the season. There are also differences in fuel costs, equipment costs, and application costs to consider depending on location.
Our agronomists compiled some of their favorite tools to share when considering the use of cover crops or reduced tillage practices. These tools help address questions like seed cost, application cost, what species' to use, and how to budget.
In recognition that every state is different, there are multiple resources listed for each of the below considerations. These tools will help you get started in the right direction.
How much will the seed cost?*
Note: You will want to check with your local seed dealers for accurate pricing.
- Green Cover - cover crop seed prices
- Sustain Seed & Soil - cover crop seed prices
- Albert Lea Seed - cover crop prices
How much will application cost?
What kinds of species should you use and how do they interact with your goals and management limitations?
- Midwest Cover Crops Council - Cover Crop Decision Tool
- Northeast Cover Crops Council - Cover Crop Decision Support Tools
How can you budget with soil health in mind?
- Land Stewardship Project - The Cropping Systems Calculator
- Iowa State University - Economics of Cover Crops
- Iowa State University - Net Returns Calculator for Cover Crops Terminated with Herbicides
- United States Department of Agriculture - Cover Crop$ Tool
- Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education - Managing Cover Crops Profitably
- This is available in print or free PDF.
Your Cargill Conservation Agronomist is also a great resource to utilize. They can help you answer some of these questions and support you in effectively implementing your soil health practices.
If you have questions, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
*These are not endorsements of any of the mentioned companies or organizations' specific comments but rather insights into what is possible with the tools they offer.