BROOKINGS, S.D. - SDSU Extension has opened the Every Acre Counts program to include all counties in South Dakota with a primary emphasis on the eastern side of the state.
The goal of Every Acre Counts is to improve the profitability, diversity and ecosystem benefits of agriculture by using precision technologies to help producers make informed management decisions for every acre of their operations. The focus of the program is on marginal lands impacted by wet conditions, saline or sodic soils and eroded areas. Program outcomes will provide producers with information needed to increase their return on investment and gain an enhanced land management approach that will benefit the sustainability of land, water and natural resources.
Millions of acres across the state are impacted by these low-yielding conditions, and the financial burden of attempting to produce crops on these marginal lands can be negative. By evaluating marginal acres and their return on investment, data summaries and conclusions obtained from this program can be shared with producers to assist in making informed decisions. SDSU Extension will work with landowners throughout the state to precisely quantify the technical metrics of their existing operations and generate an economic analysis report, which will provide the information needed to pinpoint and quantify marginal acres on each operation.
Previously, Every Acre Counts was limited to 15 counties in eastern South Dakota. To kick start the program, four regions were selected to study different soil types and areas of concern. These included Moody, Lake and Minnehaha counties to study eroded and wet areas; Brown, Spink, Clark and Day counties to focus on saline/sodic and wet areas, in addition to the region of Edmunds, Potter and Faulk counties with a similar soil type; and Aurora, Brule, Buffalo and Jerauld counties to highlight saline/sodic and eroded areas. Now, all South Dakota counties will be included in the study.
The South Dakota Habitat Conservation Fund, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service in South Dakota and Pheasants Forever are currently providing program funding through grants. Program operations support is currently provided by Agtegra, South Dakota Corn, Ducks Unlimited, the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition and South Dakota Game Fish and Parks. Federal, state and local habitat and conservation programs will also be used to leverage funding.
Every Acre Counts will continue to help producers increase farm profitability, wildlife habitats and stakeholder confidence, improve soil health and water quality and enhance student learning through the next five years and beyond.
If you have issues with marginal lands and would like to learn more about this program, contact SDSU Extension Soils Field Specialist Anthony Bly.