South Dakota Grassland Coalition

by Cristin Weber

Sep 2022

Devoting resources, creating new partnerships, and recognizing the potential impact on marginal lands across the state of South Dakota is what created the Every Acre Counts Program. South Dakota State University, Second Century Habitat Fund, Pheasants Forever, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, South Dakota Corn, and Purina are the key founders of the program. Though the core focus of each group varies, all have in common the goal of land stewardship.


Every Acre Counts goal is to improve the farm profitability, diversity, and ecosystem benefits of agriculture by using precision technologies to empower producers to help make informed management decisions for every acre of their operations. To achieve that, the precision data from the grower is transferred to a profitability software along with the production input costs, crop market price, and variable rate fertilizer or seeding maps available. When all the data is collected, a report is generated to show the producer the profitability throughout the field and see it as an acre-by-acre profit/loss map instead of an averaged field-by-field representation. When marginal land, such as saline soils is prevalent, conservation program examples are created to show what could happen to the field’s profit, expense reduction, and ROI if the marginal lands were removed from crop production and enrolled into CRP or the Soil Health and Habitat Program (see photos below). 

Every Acre Counts is now in its second year. To date there has been over 50,000 acres enrolled for the profitability analysis. The conversations in the field have been exciting to see and hear what producers are planning to do for soil health improvements of adding in cover crops, incorporating livestock, and putting small grains back into their rotations. By removing marginal land from crop production, it is reducing expenses, increasing yield on remaining crop production acres, and maximizing profit. Making a change on the landscape provides the opportunity to provide nesting, brood rearing, and cover for wildlife. Not only is it about habitat, but building soil health, increasing water quality, and improving sustainability. Every Acre Counts is successful because of the collaboration of our partners visions to provide the farmers and ranchers of South Dakota a new way of utilizing their precision data to make an impact on their operation and improve the natural resources across the state, showing how conservation and agriculture work together.

Cristin Weber is a Precision Ag and Conservation Specialist with Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever

Source: SDGC Newsletter

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