Caring for Iowa’s farmland requires many decisions to be made 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 of discussing new conservation practices with your tenant or landlord. To help begin the conversation, Iowa Learning Farms created a new 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% according to recent surveys. These rented acres are greatly influenced by the tenant who farms them,” stated Mark Licht, Iowa State University assistant professor of agronomy and Iowa Learning Farms advisor, who cultivated the idea of 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,” explained 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 find the series also 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 you have ideas for future topics for this series, contact Liz Juchems at email@example.com or call 515-294-5429. The four-part series, along with other print and video resources, are available online. Copies will also be available at Iowa Learning Farms field days and workshops, or mailed to you upon request.
Established in 2004, Iowa Learning Farms has become a trusted source of conservation information and research while helping to build a Culture of Conservation by encouraging adoption of conservation practices. Farmers, researchers, and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best management practices that improve water quality and soil health while remaining profitable. Partners of Iowa Learning Farms are the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319), Conservation Districts of Iowa, Iowa Farm Bureau, and Iowa Water Center and Practical Farmers of Iowa.