Major Farm Finance Database Includes Preliminary Data on Cover Crop Economics

Minnesota partners and Environmental Defense Fund teamed up to add cover crops to one of the country’s largest farm financial datasets

April 20, 2022
Hilary Kirwan, (202) 572-3277,

(MINNEAPOLIS) Farmers across Minnesota now have access to detailed financial information about the profitability of cover crops — plants that are grown to build and maintain soil health between cash crops — through FINBIN, the largest publicly available farm financial database in the country. The change is a result of a collaboration between The University of Minnesota’s Center for Farm Financial Management, Minnesota State Farm Business Management, Southwest Minnesota Farm Business Management Association, Minnesota Office for Soil Health and Environmental Defense Fund.

Minnesota State FBM included initial findings from 17 farms growing cover crops in its annual report, Influence of intensified environmental practices on farm profitability, which was released this week and draws from the database. The preliminary data shows the seed cost, input costs and other expenses producers incurred growing a winter cover crop.

Over the coming years, the cover crop dataset will grow to include more than 85 farms across Minnesota and will enable farmers, farmer business partners and state policymakers to glean new insights about how cover crops impact yields and profitability.

“We’re excited to answer farmers’ economic questions about cover crops,” said Vincent Gauthier, senior analyst, Climate-Smart Agriculture at EDF. “This new and growing dataset will allow us to compare yields, expenses and profits between farms that grow cover crops and those that don’t.”

The information collected in the 2021 pilot year allowed farmers and FBM instructors to test out the new data collection process. The preliminary data showed that farmers spent $26 per acre on cover crop seed planted before corn and $20 per acre on cover crop seed planted before soybeans.

“Farmers need detailed financial information when considering the adoption of a new management practice, and cover crops are no different,” said Keith Olander, executive director of AgCentric and FBM. “The new enterprise data on cover crops will help farmers make informed financial decisions.”

The cover crop financial dataset will enhance a robust set of financial benchmarking data for environmental practices in the FINBIN database, which already includes comparisons of tillage practices and financial analysis of farms participating in the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Water Quality Certification Program.

“This new financial data on cover crops will provide critical detail for Minnesota farms to improve the profitability of implementing the practice,” said Brad Jordahl Redlin, Water Quality Certification Program manager at Minnesota Department of Agriculture. “Now in its third year, the overall report has already established that the environmental cohort of farms — those certified in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program — has every year shown higher net income profit than the non-certified cohort.”

Download Influence of intensified environmental practices on farm profitability at, and explore the FINBIN database at

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One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund ( creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 2.5 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund

Minnesota Farm Business Management programs are designed to provide education to farm owners and operators or persons interested in farming. The purpose of the program is to assist students in meeting their business and personal goals. The program is part of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and facilitated through the Agricultural Centers of Excellence.