Building Evidence on Soil Health for Illinois

To ensure a sustainable future for the land there’s one place more and more farmers know they can turn: the soil beneath their feet.

American Farmland Trust partnered with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service on four new case studies that show healthier soil on farmland brings economic benefits to farmers and environmental benefits to both farmers and society.

One of those farms is located in Illinois.

Ifft Farms, Illinois

Jim Ifft started farming in 1975 and currently farms with his wife, Julie, and son, Josh. The family grows corn and soybeans on 1,800 acres in northcentral Illinois, leasing over 1,600 them. They use soil health practices on all the acres, rented and owned.

Jim wanted to diversify his corn-soybean rotation and knew he was on the right track when he discovered cover crops. Jim credits cover crops for helping the farm implement no-till corn.

Through adopting cover crops and no-till practices, the Ifft’s have also applied their adaptive approach to nutrient management practices.

  • On the 1,650 acres in the study they improved their bottom line by $22 per acre, or $35,685 annually.
  • In addition, USDA’s COMET-Farm Tool analyzed one 80-acre field on the farm and estimated that Ifft’s soil health practices resulted in a 35% reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions — corresponding to taking eight cars off the road.
  • Jim and Josh host on-farm demonstrations to showcase the success they’ve had with cover crops and to provide a learning environment for other farmers—exhibiting future support to farmers who are seeking to implement these types of conservation practices.

While managing for soil health continues to require adaptive strategies, the Iffts have succeeded in implementing a system of management changes over time that has proven to be successful in reducing their overall inputs while increasing their overall yields.

 

Read the full profile and case study here!

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