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weeds growing in saline area of corn field
SALINE WOES: Only a few weeds grow in the saline area of this corn field.

Boost acre-by-acre profits with new land management program

Every Acre Counts aims to help farmers better manage marginal cropland.

A new program called Every Acre Counts is getting underway helping South Dakota farmers make the best use of marginal land.

The program will use the profit mapping technology to help put dollars and cents to cropping and conservation uses on marginal cropland.

Every Acre Counts is a collaboration between the South Dakota Habitat Conservation Foundation, the Natural Resource Conservation Service and South Dakota State University.

According to a statement issued by the South Dakota Habitat Conservation Foundation, SDSU specialists will “work with landowners and their crop and financial consultants to precisely characterize the technical metrics of their existing operations and generate an accrual-based economic analysis. The information will then be incorporated into a profit mapping software to pinpoint and quantify marginal acres. In addition, federal, state and local habitat and conservation programs will be used to leverage funding for managing marginal acres.”

'Producers like me'
“Every year, producers like me are faced with tough planning decisions,” says Christine Hamilton, a Kimball, S.D., rancher and president of the South Dakota Habitat Conservation Foundation. “The opportunity to develop partnerships like this demonstrates the importance of our ag industry in South Dakota and our dedication to land stewardship. This successful collaboration will result in new knowledge about profit margins with various combinations of practices, and outcomes that improve overall land and conservation management.”

“The primary focus for this project will be the optimal use of marginal lands impacted by wet conditions, saline or sodic soils, and eroded areas such as hilltops,” says Barry H. Dunn, SDSU president. “Millions of acres of cropland across South Dakota are impacted by these challenges, with over 7 million acres impacted by saline conditions alone. The financial burdens of attempting to produce crops in these marginal areas can be negative to a producer’s bottom line. And, together, we want to change this.”

Four regions of South Dakota have been selected to kickstart the project:

• Moody, Lake and Minnehaha counties with eroded and wet areas

• Brown, Spink, Clark and Day counties with saline/sodic and wet areas

• Edmonds, Potter and Faulk; and Aurora, Brule, Buffalo and Jerauld counties with saline/sodic and eroded areas.

The vision is to build out from the initial adopters to recruit neighbors and create a critical mass of participants in each of the four regions, Dunn says. Focusing the work in these specific areas enables a greater efficiency in delivering the programs to surrounding landowners, producing easy but effective outreach.

Acre by acre
“Marginal lands can delay farming operations from planting to harvesting for days or even weeks, potentially impacting profitability on the good ground,” says Jeff Zimprich, state conservationist for NRCS, Huron, SD. “By considering the capability and thus the profitability acre-by-acre versus field by field, producers will increase the efficient use of all inputs. This project is designed to benefit the economic stability and environmental sustainability of South Dakota agriculture.”

If landowners, particularly those in the four regions where the project will begin, are interested in learning more, contact the project directors at anthony.bly@sdstate.edu or matthew.diersen@sdstate.edu.

“We hope this initiative will demonstrate that additional returns are possible as a result of adopting the right mix of conservation practices in the appropriate parts of our fields,” Hamilton says.

Source: South Dakota Habitat Conservation Foundation, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

TAGS: Conservation
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