Pheasants Forever, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), AgSolver and Heartland Co-op, have entered into a groundbreaking partnership to integrate business, agronomic, and conservation planning services for farmers in southwest Iowa. The Precision Agriculture Business Planning Partnership is aimed at providing increased farm income to area producers by offering conservation practices on less profitable crop acres.
“It is critical for us as farmers to protect working capital and focus resources in order to maximize our return-on-investment (ROI). This starts by understanding real business performance within our fields,” stated David Muth, senior vice president for AgSolver
. “Precision business planning at a sub-field scale will identify acres where business performance dictates a transition to lower-cost revenue opportunities. Essentially, this partnership will achieve conservation outcomes while helping farmers make more income – a win-win for producers and wildlife.”
The foundation of this new partnership is built on the technology of AgSolver’s Profit Zone ManagerTM platform which focuses on ROI at a sub-field scale. This technology comes at a critical time when USDA is predicting a net farm income decline of 36 percent for 2015 – the largest year-to-year drop since 1983. With a variety of conservation programs currently available in Iowa and yielding high rental rates, ROI technology can define areas where conservation programs are more profitable for producers than row crops, and can help to diversify farm income over the long-term.
Recently hired by Pheasants Forever as a Precision Agriculture Business Planning Specialist, Jeremy Biggs will work closely with Heartland Co-op agronomists and farmers to perform the economic analyses and help pinpoint underperforming acres in southwest Iowa, particularly within the East and West Nishnabotna watersheds. “I’m excited to be working with a great group of partner organizations and look forward to using the latest and greatest agriculture technology to identify areas of need for producers,” said Biggs. “This is a real opportunity to create more sustainable and profitable land uses in our state.” Biggs will be based in the Neola office of Heartland Co-op where he recently completed an internship with Heartland. He graduated from Northwest Missouri State University with a degree in Agriculture Science and Business, and started his new position on September 21.
“Heartland Co-op is extremely pleased to be involved with Pheasants Forever, Ag Solver, and NRCS in this partnership to strengthen farmer participation in adopting new conservation projects and supporting Iowa's Nutrient Reduction Strategy,” expressed Dave Coppess, executive vice president for Heartland Co-op
. “Our Certified Crop Advisors and Technical Service Providers are active catalysts for defining unprofitable zones within individual fields that should be enrolled in permanent wildlife habitat. Working together, we will expedite the process in a manner which is profitable for farmers and sustainable for Iowa's natural resources.”
Once the Profit Zone Manager analysis is completed, a producer will be made aware of other conservation programs that may offer enhanced ROI than the current crop rotation, while also providing increased soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat benefits.
“This project is a step toward linking conservation to sound agronomic and farm business planning. When farmers can identify parts of fields which chronically lose money, those problem spots can become opportunities for conservation and the farmer’s financial bottom line,” said Rick Ellsmore, acting state conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service in Iowa
About Pheasants Forever
, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever
, is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 140,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent; the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure. Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $577 million on 489,000 habitat projects benefiting 12 million acres nationwide.
Photo Credit: NRCS - Participating organizations of the Precision Agriculture Business Planning Partnership gather in Des Moines for a signing ceremony. Pictured from left to right are Dave Coppess (executive vice president of Heartland Co-op), Jay Mar (former NRCS state conservationist), Howard Vincent (president and CEO of Pheasants Forever), and David Muth (senior vice president of AgSolver).