Farm leases and conservation

Whether you’re a landowner or you are renting land, addressing conservation measures can be a tricky subject. Draw up a farm lease that is tailored to the unique needs of each party and to the land itself. To be sustainable, it should address conservation ideas and concerns, and ensure a profitable arrangement for both parties.

Charles Brown is a farm management specialist with Iowa State University Extension. He says tenants and landlords should sit down together and lay out the specifics of their goals, such as incorporating cover crops. 

"Who’s going to pay for the seeding of the cover crops? The landlord? The tenant? Are they going to share in costs? What kind of seed is going to be used and how’s it going to be established? Is the landlord agreeable to maybe reduce the rent if the tenant agrees to use cover crops? It has to be more than a one-year lease, a five-year lease is what I’d like to see," says Brown. "I think the longer the better because when you start using cover crops, for example, this is a long-term situation and every year you’re going to see some improvements in your soil health."

Prioritize your concerns, make a checklist, and mark what everyone agrees on. Brown strongly recommends a written lease. It saves a lot of arguments down the road.

"I think in that lease there should be a clause that it’s farmed according to the conservation plan on file at the FSA office. It tells the landlord and the tenant how the farm should be farmed. Whether or not they need to be using no-till, minimum till, crop rotation and so on," he says. "If it’s not farmed according to those plans, they can be kicked out of the farm program payments."

Most Recent Poll

Will you have enough on-farm storage for harvest?

I just want to see the responses
43% (26 votes)
41% (25 votes)
No, it’s going to be a bin-buster
7% (4 votes)
Maybe, depending on yields
5% (3 votes)
No, I am looking at new bins or temporary storage
5% (3 votes)
Total votes: 61
Thank you for voting.