Farm landowners: Conservation conversations

Submitted by Sara Berges, Allamakee SWCD

If you rent out farmland, it is important to know how your land is being managed by your tenants. Even if your tenant is a friend or relative, we encourage you to talk to them about their tillage, rotation, and conservation practices so that you are aware of the management.  Often, the only conversations between the landowner and tenant surround the rental rate and acres.  If you are a landowner who doesn’t live near your land or don’t see it often, good communication can be even more important.  Landowners may be more willing to reduce rent or offer longer leases if they feel that their ground is being well-managed through open, honest conversations with their tenant.

A few years ago, the ISU Extension short form lease template added a provision stating that the operator would provide the landowner with an annual report summarizing fertilizer, lime, and pesticide application and yield information.  ISU Extension has also developed information for how producers can develop a farm newsletter for landlords as well as a generic template. These reports don’t need to be lengthy or time-consuming.  But, these simple newsletters or drop-by visits can foster good relationships between landowners and tenants and ensure that both parties are in agreement about how the farm is being managed.  For landowners who own several properties and have several tenants, these reports can be very beneficial for understanding the different management, soil conditions, and conservation between their different properties.

It may be beneficial for the producer to include information about costs of crop production and commodity markets so that the landowner understands the economic climate surrounding crop production.  Other topics may include weather, changes in technology or equipment, conservation practices, and future goals.

If either party wishes to see new conservation practices being implemented on the rented ground, please stop by the Allamakee NRCS/SWCD office to discuss goals, potential practices, and cost-share options.  Many conservation practices require design and planning work in order to be able to sign up for cost-share, so it’s important to start this process early.  If you have questions, please call 563-568-2246 ext 3. or stop by 635 9th  St NW between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

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