The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb or Farm Journal Media. The opinions expressed below are the author's own.
Marc Schober is the editor of Farmland Forecast an educational blog devoted to investments in agriculture and farmland.
When a land buyer is shopping for a piece of farmland, they must compare many different aspects of the land. A land buyer should do plenty of research prior to making a purchase including studying farmer demands, rent prices, comparable land sales, yields, wetness and many other factors. Often the easiest comparison to draw between parcels will be a soil rating. In the state of Iowa, they use a Corn Suitability Rating (CSR). A parcel’s CSR acts as a standard for comparing different pieces of land. CSR assesses only the inherent productivity. Factors such as buildings, location, water supplies, crop and noncrop acreages, and other management features must be subsequently evaluated, according to Iowa State University.
CSR is an index procedure developed in Iowa to rate each different kind of soil for its potential row-crop productivity, according to Iowa State University. CSR is based on a 100.0 scale.
Other states have soil rating systems, but Iowa’s CSR has proven to be very easy to understand, and effective.
A field’s average CSR is the number that is used for comparisons. If field A has a CSR of 82.5, and field B has a CSR of 85.0, field A should carry a lower price tag per acre. There are many other factors that could easily justify a higher price from a farm with a lower CSR, but typically CSRs can be a great standard for comparing parcels. It measures the pure productivity of the soil.
I have thought that before too, but infrastructure will not allow that. Say they wanted to plant sugar beets, where would they hall them? To North Dakota? The infrastructure allows corn and soybeans to have the best returns, other crops may sell for high prices but they aren't worth it after everything is weighed out. I don't doubt things will change in the future, but not now.
Farmers in corn belt really have to learn how to grow something other than corn. Their are a lot of other crops with good returns.