ASA Partnership with the Walton Family Foundation


ASA, with support from the Walton Family Foundation, recently completed a research study to evaluate soybean farmers’ attitudes and experiences with conservation programs and practices.

The study, summarized in this infographic and below, consisted of four focus groups and a quantitative survey of ASA members in 13 states surrounding the Mississippi River Basin. Data was gathered between Dec. 2018-July 2019.


Key Findings:

  • Soybean farmers are active conservationists with a desire to do more.
  • Grower organizations and land grant universities were identified as the most trusted sources of information for farmers. This puts ASA in a unique position to lead and promote the implementation of more conservation practices.
  • 73% of farmers surveyed indicated they would implement more conservation measures if they thought these additional practices would be profitable.
  • The average farmer pays for all conservation measures, even on rented land, with average expenditures of more than $15,000 per year.
  • On average, farmers have 14 long-standing conservation practices in place and have added new ones recently. They also intend to implement additional practices.
  • For those farmers with land designated as wetlands or highly erodible ground, more than one-third receive financial help from their landlords to cover conservation expenses. Average costs to implement these practices, among these growers, were $22,352 in 2018.
  • Most of the farmers surveyed (78%) manage rental land in the same way they manage land they own. This means that the positive practices put in place by average farmers extend to all the land they farm.
  • A need identified by farmers was not better communications, but better information. They are each struggling on their own and encountering many problems, from yield drag to new weeds and too much water.
  • Farmers trust other farmers the most. Sharing success stories is the most appealing way to spread information.
  • Growers would like a way to recognize and measure the amount of stewardship they do so they can show others the care they take to protect the environment and our natural resources.

ASA has committed to build upon the work initiated in 2019 and lessons learned from soybean farmers in the 2019 Conservation and Soil Health Study. This work will follow two tracks:

  • Cultivating leaders to share their conservation expertise, through both formal programs and within the ASA board structure.
  • Working with individual Mississippi River Basin states on additional conservation practice adoption.

Concurrently, ASA will partner with state associations and other partners to bring additional conservation practices to the land in Mississippi River Basin states. ASA will:

  • Provide support to states for existing projects to amplify the number of acres enrolled.
  • With guidance from farmer leaders, develop new conservation projects and new partners to work together.
  • Provide assistance to additional states to leverage resources, share project information, and identify local partners.

ASA Conservation Champions

  • A group of eight geographically diverse “Conservation Champions” came together summer 2019 to share their conservation successes with each other and polish their communications skills. Efforts have continued since, bringing additional networking and outreach opportunities to share information on the value of various conservation practices and programs with broader audiences.
  • ASA’s communications efforts around conservation, including the Conservation Champions and ASA’s long-standing Conservation Legacy Awards program, will take a higher profile in the association. We will encourage these conservation leaders to keep trying new things and leading the way so that their knowledge can be shared with all farmers.

As part of the WFF partnership, ASA awards farmers grant money to cost-share implementation of new conservation improvements to their farms. ASA Conservation Champions and Conservation Legacy Award winners are eligible for these grants.

The Walton Family Foundation will continue to be a valuable partner to ASA in the implementation of this plan.