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Iowa Introduces CSR2 Soil Rating System

If you are involved in agriculture in Iowa, there is a good chance you have used the Corn Suitability Rating (CSR) system. The original CSR program was first introduced in 1971 by Dr. Tom Fenton, an Iowa State University agronomy professor. Whether it was to help negotiate cash rents, put a value on a parcel of land, find comparable sales, or figure property taxes, ag professionals have long relied on the tool in day-to-day activities. Beginning in mid-August, a new program referred to as CSR2 began to replace the original CSR program, with the new program expected to be completely unrolled by the end of 2012.

It is important to understand that the NRCS offices will be replacing the original CSR with the new rating system, and will still be referring to it as CSR, not CSR2. Be sure when you are looking at the CSR rating you know which program – CSR or CSR2 – you are looking at. To help reduce confusion, Peoples Company is publishing both the CSR and CSR2 ratings to help ease people into the transition.

The original CSR program rated soils on a scale of 5-100. Iowa State agronomists looked at each soil and gave it a basic rating for its feasible row crop productivity. They determined this by assigning a value to a certain subgroup of soils. They then would discount that number due to factors such as slope, weather patterns, soil erosion, and water infiltration. Though this program was very successful, it was fairly complicated to calculate.

The new CSR program (CSR2) is a rating system with some similarities to CSR, but also some very distinct differences. The main goals of CSR2 are to be able to calculate CSR with more simplicity, consistency, and clarity.  The long term goal is to be able to move this soil productivity index across borders.

The new formula is as follows: CSR2=S-M-F-W-D-C +/- EJ

S-taxonomic subgroup class of soil series

M-family particle size

F-field conditions

W-water holding capacity

D-soil depth and tolerable rate of erosion


EJ-expert judgment

There is a good possibility that your farm’s CSR rating changed according to CSR2. With these changes, there will be winners and there will be losers. In most cases, I have seen little to no change. In others, however, I have seen changes as large as 12 points on certain parcels.

Dealing with the transition from CSR to CSR2 will be a challenge. Having the proper professionals with the knowledge and expertise in valuing a farm using both CSR and CSR2 will be very beneficial. Peoples Company Land Professionals have the experience and knowledge to help you understand the process, and how the changes in CSR may affect your farms’ values.

The full impact that the changes in CSR will have on farmland values remains to be seen. Being educated on the topic and collecting the pertinent information will help make the transition easier. If you have any questions about the transition from CSR to CSR2, or the impact it may have on your farm, please feel free to contact Peoples Company for more information.


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