Iowa is updating its soil productivity rating system for farmland. The Iowa Corn Suitability Rating (CSR) system was developed by Iowa State University in the early 1970s as a way to measure potential soil productivity for property tax assessment. The CSR is based on soil profile, slope characteristics and weather conditions. It is also influenced by the soil scientist’s experience and expert judgment. Since that time CSR values have become widely used in valuing farms, setting lease terms, and making crop plans.
This October, the USDA Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS) released CSR2, an updated version of the original CSR. Iowa State University developed CSR2 to be consistent with NRCS’s newer data-driven soil survey methods, and to make the soil productivity calculations more transparent. CSR2 also incorporates the soil sub-components and map inclusions that the NRCS now uses in their soil surveys. Because of this, CSR2 is more suitable for site-specific soil measurement and precision-farming uses.
It’s important to understand that CSR2 values are not comparable to the original CSR values because they are calculated differently. On a farm-by-farm basis, there is a good probability that the weighted average CSR2 value will be different than the original CSR value. Because CSR has long been used as one of the components to determine a farm’s value, confusion between CSR and CSR2 can influence a farm’s perceived value. This may also have an impact on lease negotiations.
Chad Hertz of Hertz Farm Management, Inc., a leading Midwest farm real estate broker, said there is going to be a transition period as the market works through what CSR2 values mean for farm values. “It’s important for everyone to be aware of the transition, and which system is being used when evaluating a farm. In order to ensure that our clients receive accurate and up-to-date information, we will be including the CSR and CSR2 values as well as soil maps in our listings, auction brochures and our farmland valuations for the foreseeable future.”
The transition may take several years, meaning that for some time there will be two rating systems in place. Hertz Farm Management, Inc. has been working closely with Iowa State University and the USDA NRCS, and will continue to do so throughout the transition.

For additional information on the topic please visit the below websites:
(the explanation of the original CSR)
(an Iowa State University presentation discussing CSR 2)

If you are an Iowa farmland owner and have any questions about your farm, contact Hertz Farm Management, Inc. for more information at 800-593-5623. 

Hertz Farm Management, Inc. / Hertz Real Estate Services been in business since 1946 and specializes in professional farm management, farm real estate sales, real estate auctions, land acquisitions, consulting, and farm appraisals throughout the Midwest. We manage farms in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Colorado.


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