Subfield profitability analysis reveals an economic case for cropland diversification

Public agencies and private enterprises increasingly desire to achieve ecosystem service outcomes in agricultural systems, but are limited by perceived conflicts between economic and ecosystem service goals and a lack of tools enabling effective operational management. Here we use Iowa—an agriculturally homogeneous state representative of the Maize Belt—to demonstrate an economic rationale for cropland diversification at the subfield scale. We used a novel computational framework that integrates disparate but publicly available data to map ~3.3 million unique potential management polygons (9.3 Mha) and reveal subfield opportunities to increase overall field profitability.