Report: Government Could Have Avoided $1 Billion Crop Payout

The Natural Resources Defense Council suggests farmers could avoid major losses if they used practices that promote soil health.

farm

Photo: Cindy Cornett Seigle (flickr)

The federal government paid Indiana farms $1.1 billion last year in crop insurance.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is suggesting the federal government could have avoided paying out more than a billion dollars to cover crop losses in Indiana after last year’s devastating drought.

The Federal Crop Insurance Program paid Hoosier farmers more than $1.1 billion to cover 2012’s crop losses, which is the fifth highest amount provided to one state last year.

A Natural Resources Defense Council report suggests some of those losses could have been prevented if more farmers used practices that promote soil health.

NRDC analyst Claire O’Connor says those things include no-till farming, which allows underground life that benefits soil to go undisturbed, and cover crops – crops grown in the off season chiefly for soil health. O’Connor says, in addition to healthier soil, those practices save money.

“When you switch to no-till, you don’t have to do as many trips around the field and so you reduce your fuel costs immediately and as far as cover crops go, and additionally with no-till, once you start building that healthy, resilient soil you reduce the input costs that you have,” he says.

Purdue University tillage specialist Tony Vyn says, while practices like cover crops and no-till do promote greater soil health, increased usage would likely have made little difference to Indiana farmers during last year’s drought.

“States like Illinois beside us that had a different timing and intensity of the drought had better yields even though they had a lower adoption of no-till in their corn and in their soybean production,” he says.

Vyn says there i no’t one simple solution to improving soil health. A combination of practices, including greater crop rotation, all contribute to healthier soil.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

View all posts by this author »

  • Mike B

    No-til allows the fungal web to grow that fees plants in increases growth 35%, reduces plant death in droughts & weather extremes.

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media News:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

Search News

Stay Connected

RSS e-mail itunes Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube

Follow us on Twitter

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media News:

Recent Environment Stories

Recent Videos

Find Us on Facebook