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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Crop and Soil Environmental News, October 2004

Soil Fertility Levels and Land Values

Mark Alley - Professor, Soil Fertility and Crop Management

Soil fertility levels directly affect farmland value, either with respect to rental rates or sale prices. A recent study by Doane Agricultural Services Co, St. Louis, MO (Sept. 13, 2004) indicated that Iowa farmland that rated "high" in soil fertility had an average selling price that was 19% higher than the county average. Part of this price difference may be associated with more productive farmland having a history of better management. However, crop land with proper soil pH levels and high available P and K is more valuable than land requiring lime and high application rates of P and K. Highest possible yields can be attained in the current year with land with proper soil pH levels and high fertility levels. Also, maintenance lime and fertilizer applications are always less expensive than "build-up" programs. As growers evaluate land rental decisions for the coming year, encourage thorough soil testing and realistic valuations based on crop production potentials and lime and fertilizer needs. In addition, landlords should be encouraged to maintain current soil test data and to reward (i.e. share buildup lime and fertilization costs and/or reduce rental rates during build-up fertilization years) tenants who maintain and/or improve the soil fertility of their property. Maintaining proper soil pH and soil fertility levels are wise investments for sustaining land productivity and value.

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