An economic analysis of three soil improvement practices in the Columbia Basin, Washington State
Tozer, Peter R.
Galinato, Suzette P.
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Soil improvement practices are ways to maintain or improve soil quality and thereby soil productivity. The objective in this research was to estimate the costs and benefits of three soil improvement practices in the Columbia Basin of Washington State: compost application, cover crops, and no-till/min-till. Focus group information formed the basis of three partial budgets to estimate changes in costs and returns due to the soil improvement practices. Partial budgets showed that two of the three practices generated positive changes in profit that were mostly due to savings in replant costs or reduced fumigation costs, and the third incurred a marginal negative value. Other non-cash benefits or costs not included in the partial budgets, but which could have a significant impact on the overall profitability of the cropping system, were increases in land value as soil productivity increased, the value of carbon sequestered, and learning and knowledge acquisition costs; all three can affect net returns. The challenge with these types of costs and benefits is how to incorporate them into a partial budget format.