Farmers Reveal Cost Savings from Regenerative Ag [Q&A]

FBN Network

Feb 28, 2024

Launched in 2022 as part of FBN®’s mission to create a future of farming that puts Farmers First®, the Regenerative Agriculture Finance Operating Line program from FBN Finance quickly became the fastest-selling financial product in FBN history.

The Regenerative Agriculture Finance Operating Line program includes a 0.5% interest rate rebate for farmers who achieve climate and water quality benchmarks established by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

The $25-million pilot fund filled up quickly, with 48 farmers enrolled and a growing waitlist to participate in an expanded fund. Now, thanks to a government grant, FBN has an even greater opportunity to reward farmers and ranchers who implement regenerative ag practices. 

The EDF sat down with two farmers who participated in the program to discuss their experiences — Joel Uthe, operator of Uthe Farm in Chariton, Iowa, and David Iverson, operator of Iverson Farm in Astoria, South Dakota. Read on to find out why they wanted to participate in the program and what kinds of costs and savings they associated with these conservation practices.

David Iverson (photo by Cody Senn)

How did you hear about the Regenerative Agriculture Finance Operating Line program, and what made you want to participate?

Uthe: I heard about the program through my lender and banker at FBN. They approached me because they knew how I handled my operation and felt that I should take advantage of this program. I really like to geek out on my numbers and cut costs per acre. Wherever a farmer can save money for doing good work on the land, you know that is a good deal.

Iverson: I have a good working relationship with my lender through FBN, and they were able to identify the types of practices I was doing on my land and the opportunity to enroll in the program. It seemed like a positive program. Curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to pursue this opportunity.

Which of your conservation farming practices make you eligible for the rebate?

Uthe: I was already implementing minimum tillage on all my acres... and [we later] implemented a split-nitrogen program [that] cut the [application] rate a lot.

Iverson: I have been farming alongside my father for over 40 years, and he [was in 2022] still operating the combine at 91 years old. Ridge till, as it was called back then, is like no till and it’s a conservation practice my father has been using since the 1980s. They both have taught me the importance of conservation.

We have been using no-till on most of our 1,500 acres of corn and soybean for decades, but more recently I have been focusing on variable-rate applications of my fertilizer. When the corn is growing, I use side dressing to put on liquid nitrogen and focus on using it only when the crop needs it.

What's the ROI of regenerative ag? Learn about the financial benefits of common sustainability practices and how you can get rewarded in the free guide from FBN Finance.

What kinds of costs and savings do you associate with these conservation practices?

Uthe: We do soil-holding capacity tests to make sure we are not over-applying nitrogen. We do direct spray applications and follow the 4R Nutrient Stewardship — right source, right rate, right time, and right place. We save money on costs, but the biggest factor here is the increase in our yields and not wasting more nutrients.

Iverson: There is a time savings component when I plant using no-till on the field. Luckily, planting season has been pretty good the past two years for no-till, because if it gets too wet in the spring, it is hard to get out on the field. Because I only have to focus on planting and do not have to do any prior tillage work, I save fuel and the expense of time with running the operation.

David Iverson uses no-till on his farm operation, photo credit by Cody Senn

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience so far?

Uthe: I want to emphasize that regenerative agricultural practices have been great for our land. I look forward to exploring different practices like cover crops and improving nitrogen efficiency. There’s nothing wrong with saving money and helping our footprint for Mother Nature: she gives us so much, and it feels good to give back to her.

Iverson: For those who are just getting started with implementing new conservation practices my advice would be to start slow and talk to people who have been doing it. [In spring 2022], a neighbor called me letting me know that they were going to try no-till for the first time. I told them to go for it and to maybe just try it on one field. The Regenerative Agriculture Finance Operating Line is a great program that I would like to see expanded and available to more people.

Download the ROI of Regenerative Ag Guide

Discover the financial reasons farmers are turning to these conservation practices in our free guide The ROI of Regenerative Ag.

Learn More About Regenerative Ag 

Now that FBN Finance's Regenerative Agriculture Finance Operating Line program has relaunched, you can join the next round of applicants — but space is limited so act fast.

Apply to the Regenerative Agriculture Finance Operating Line Program Now

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Financing offered by FBN Finance, LLC and its lending partners. Available where FBN Finance, LLC is licensed. Terms and conditions apply. To qualify, a borrower must be a member of Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. and meet all underwriting requirements. Interest rates and fees will vary depending on your individual situation. Not all applicants will qualify. NMLS ID: 1631119.

The Regenerative Agriculture Operating Line program is subject to the Regenerative Agriculture Rebate Program’s terms and conditions, the Regenerative Agriculture Rebate Program Agreement and all related documentation, and the FBN Finance, LLC operating line of credit financing agreement and all related documentation.

FBN Network

Feb 28, 2024

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