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Lauren Hafford • Boulder, CO

Croptimize: finding a route to profitability under conservation practices such as cover crops and no-till agriculture

Project Description

This project will build an intuitive testing and analysis toolkit for conservation practices, called Croptimize. Producers are already experimenting with conservation practices such as cover crops, no-till, crop rotations, and forage grazing. By adopting powerful experimentation statistics, they can accelerate their understanding of the underlying causes, effects, and interactions at work. If there is a combination of practices, species, and application rates which will deliver better yields than traditional wheat/fallow (standard for dryland agriculture), this toolkit will find it.

Project Goals

Carbon can be sequestered on agricultural lands. We understand the science of this already, but the economics are harder. Curt Sayles, a dryland farmer, said to me, “They tell us, every farm is different and you have to experiment to know what will work on your farm. But guys get discouraged, they are groping in the dark.” I will build tools to help farmers get through this experimentation hurdle, and hope this can help farmers become more profitable more quickly. Profitable farmers will be the best advocates for practices which sequester carbon and improve soil health.

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If you are interested in contacting this Fellow, please email Gail Parson, Director of Membership & Engagement, at

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