AMES, Iowa — Caring for Iowa’s farmland requires many decisions that impact today and future generation’s ability to best utilize the land for agricultural production. Land rental relationships can vary, but many face similar challenges when discussing new conservation practices with a tenant or landlord. To help begin the conversation, Iowa Learning Farms created a publication series with talking points and relevant research findings about a variety of conservation practices.
“A large number of Iowa cropland acres are rented every year; nearly 50 percent according to recent surveys. These rented acres are greatly influenced by the tenant who farms them,” said Mark Licht, Iowa State University assistant professor of agronomy and Iowa Learning Farms advisor, who conceptualized the series.
“Landowners are integral in the decision-making process: from leasing structure and understanding farming practices, to being considerate of practice costs and profitability. With emphasis being placed on nutrient loss reduction and practices ranging from in-field to land use changes, it’s imperative for landowners and tenants to have conversations about reaching production, profitability and environmental goals,” said Licht. “These conversations can lead to improvements of soil health and water quality, along with meeting productivity and profitability goals.”
As land is passed from one generation to another, or is sold, it can lead to uncertainty for tenants and landowners alike.
“We developed this series in response to questions we heard from landowners. They wanted to understand how conservation practices such as strip-tillage and cover crops would affect both their land and the tenant’s bottom line before asking them to add these practices to their management plans,” said Jacqueline Comito, Iowa Learning Farms director. “While the name of the series is ‘Talking to Your Tenant,’ the reverse is also true. We think tenants will also find the series helpful as they educate their landowners on implementing these important practices.”
The series addresses in-field practices like cover crops, no-tillage and strip-tillage, and edge-of-field practices such as denitrifying bioreactors and wetlands. If landowners or renters with ideas for future topics for this series should contact Liz Juchems at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 515-294-5429. The four-part series, along with other print and video resources, is available online at www.iowalearningfarms.org/conservation. Copies will also be available at Iowa Learning Farms field days and workshops, or mailed upon request.