Stewardship Program

Leveraging data and analytics to improve farm operations,
improve environmental outcomes, and increase net return


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Stewardship Program Overview

The International Water Institute Stewardship Program (SP) helps agricultural producers model agronomic risk and realize continuous soil and nutrient retention. The SP was developed to optimize net return per acre while reducing the risks associated with changing a farm operation.

The SP Wayfindr software application helps producers quickly explore how current and potential farm operations affect their fields’ soil and nutrient loss, profitability, and yield. Farmers select any combination of modifications to tillage, crop rotation, fertilizer application methods, and conservation practices for a particular field or collection of fields. Wayfindr generates a “Stewardship Rating” based on quantitative water, soil, and nutrient metrics.


The SP adds value to farming operations by modeling optimization and opening doors to revenue possibilities:
     1. Fine-tune operations at the field and farm scales 
     2. Qualify for tax credits 
     3. Certify products to make them stand out in the market
     4. Sell water credits in the ecosystem services marketplace
     5. Negotiate preferred bank loan rates 
   

Stewardship Program Outcomes

·  Increase/maintain net return ·  Improve soil conditions
·  Quantify and improve water, soil, and nutrient retention within the field
·  Establish and improve your Stewardship Rating·  Increase yield in low-performing areas of the field
·  Leverage market interest in land stewardship
·  Better manage agronomic risk and preservation of agricultural legacy
·  Detailed analysis and reporting of current and alternative farming strategies

Frequently Asked Questions 

What makes the SP different from other farm management programs?

The SP models the outcomes of operational changes in the field and their effect on net profit, yield, and soil, water, and nutrient runoff. It is the only program of its kind to quantify the expected impacts that different combinations of activities (cover crops, no-till, fertilizer, and others) have on specific fields. The SP is not a government program or a carbon market.

Is 45Z (the federal Clean Fuel Production Tax Credit) included?

Yes, a 45Z module will be added in summer 2024. The farm data inputs used in the SP include the same data required to document and calculate a Carbon Intensity (CI) score per field. 

45Z is a tax credit for producers of biofuel feedstock and fuel products. It is part of the federal Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, and 45Z applies to the p2024-2027 growing seasons. Current estimates place the credit at $150-300 per acre for documenting the low-carbon intensity corn brought to market. This credit will be split between a biofuel facility and the farmers it purchases foodstock from.

See the IWI Carbon Intensity (CI) page or contact shelly@iwinst.org for more information. 

What value do I receive?

     1. Quickly model changes to your operation before you implement them
     2. Increase/maintain net return per acre
     3. Quantify and improve water, soil, and nutrient retention within the field
     4. Increase yields in low-performing areas of a field
     5. Qualify for significant tax credits
     6. Leverage market interest in land stewardship
     7. Better manage agronomic risk and preservation of agricultural legacy

You’ll receive easy-to-read reports to better understand the rate of soil loss, irrigation efficiency, nutrient loss, soil water retention and downstream water quality impacts from your fields and collectively from your farm. Compare your existing operation to alternative field plans to understand how to boost net return, improve your Stewardship Rating, and manage environmental outcomes. Work with your trusted advisor to develop strategies (i.e., field plans). Track and evaluate changes over time.

What is the cost?

The SP is currently funded by sponsors and there is no cost. The Mosaic Company, The International Water Institute and Cargill (Global Water Challenge). There will be a small cost per acre for the 45Z Carbon Intensity (CI) score module of the SP. More information will be coming in July 2024.

Will my contact information be shared? Will anyone be trying to sell me something?

No.

Who owns the data in Wayfindr?

Producers own their indvidual data. The SP anonymizes and aggregates data to quantify the improvements across all Wayfindr users over time. No information about you or your farm operation is disclosed. A confidentiality agreement signed during the application process describes data ownership and use. 

Who will I be sharing information with?

The SP is led by the IWI. One or more in-person meetings will occur on your farm with an IWI SP Specialist and your trusted advisor.

What information is required?

Information including crop yield and commodity price is required. Information describing your operation (crop rotation, tillage, and fertilizer history) for each field enrolled is also required. Precision agriculture data and direct/indirect production expenses are optional.

Am I obligated to the IWI or to program sponsors?

No. The IWI reports annually to program funders only the anonymized and aggregated expected improvements in water runoff and water quality realized through the SP. No personal or business information is shared.

What is the time commitment?

Expect an average of 30 minutes per field. Data input is facilitated by a mobile field application. Also expect to meet with your trusted advisor to develop strategies intended to improve the farm operation and review results.

Does Wayfindr connect to Farm Management Systems?

Not yet, but soon. We’re working to build integrations with common software applications so that you can enter and view data all in one place. Let us know which FMS are important to you. Contact shelly@iwinst.org 

Do I need to enroll all my fields?

No. Producers can enroll one or more fields. Wayfindr users report great value in using the summary Stewardship Rating function to assess their entire operation. 

How can I participate?

Fill out a simple application and speak to an IWI SP Specialist. We encourage you to invite your trusted advisor to the conversation. Participation is voluntary. One or more fields can be enrolled.

Is there a downside to participating?

Participating in the SP requires about 30 minutes per field enrolled. 

What if I encounter problems?

Discuss questions with your SP Specialist at any time. If necessary, you can withdraw from the program.

Sponsors

Questions? Contact

Chuck Fritz
charles@iwinst.org