What You Should Do with Underperforming Farmland

Farming naturally takes a toll on your land. Crops leave topsoil exposed to wind and rain, causing erosion and runoff. Tillage further erodes the soil. Growing the same crop year over year depletes the soil’s nutrients, removes vital organic matter and leaves it less fertile and more fragile. 

To compensate, additional fertilizer is used, increasing the presence of nitrates. Because the soil is dryer and weaker, it doesn’t absorb water as well. The runoff bleeds into local water supplies, polluting them with the additional nitrates. Meanwhile, the degraded soil releases more carbon into the air, increasing the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

All of these factors contribute to lower yields, poor returns, and an unhealthy environment.  So, what do you do? Leaving an underperforming field untouched feels like a waste, but it can reach a point where you’re losing money trying to farm these areas. 

For lands that are too dry (often due to their inability to properly absorb water), you may try irrigation to increase water flow. However, irrigation is an expensive investment, and you may not see enough of a return to cover the additional expense. If you’re pulling water from a nearby water source, it can upset ecological balance, causing further damage to the environment.  

The runoff of irrigation can also cause excessive water elsewhere. 

In cases where too much water is present, tile drainage has long been utilized. However, this too comes with high investment costs, and studies have shown it to increase runoff, depleting water reserves and dirtying water supplies. 

Both tiling and irrigation come with ongoing maintenance and repair costs as well, further offsetting any increase in profits. 

What you need is a long-term solution with little upfront cost that will bring on-going returns while restoring health to your farm. 

CRP Restores Farmland While Providing Financial Stability 

In our experience, the best solution to bring health back to the land is through the Conservation Reserve Program. CRP was created to conserve and improve soil quality, protect water supplies, and restore wildlife habitat, while providing compensation to landowners.  

This is done by establishing perennial plant species such as native grasses, forbs, and trees. These plants cover and protect soil while providing wildlife and pollinator habitats, which are crucial for local ecosystems. 

Not only does CRP improve the health of the acres enrolled in the program, but it brings balance to the surrounding environment as well. In return for your enrollment, you are compensated according to county soil rental rates for your fields. It’s a win-win. 

To learn more about the different CRP practices available and how you can get started, contact FDCE today. Let us help you keep focus on the rest of your farm production by taking care of your CRP requirements. 

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