How do you improve the land? Is improving communication between the landowner and the farmer a good start?
Communication is important in any relationship, but the relationship between the landowner and the farmer is very unique. For many landowners, your farmland is not the first and foremost thing on your mind every day. But to the farmer, how to improve the land and farm it a way that improves its productivity and sustainability, is always on his mind. You as a landowner are very dependent on the farmer to bring you timely and accurate information, when you need it. But do you need it?
The answer is yes. Now how much and how often is totally up to you. For many landowners, just a phone call or personal visit when the farmer brings the rent check is all they get. This is not enough. This sets the precedent that the only need for communication is to deal with money. Your land and farm, though it can be personal to you, is more than just a business transaction. How it is farmed can bring value to it or can greatly degrade its value. Discussing stewardship, long-term goals, investing, and increasing production are all ways to create future benefits for you and your land. So communication is key in this unique relationship. Who initiates this discussion is not important, but taking the necessary steps to improve dialogue is.
As I have talked with many farmers over the years, and having an open and honest dialogue is a must. They feel they can be the best tenant for your farmland when problems can be solved, soil quality can be enhanced, and production can be improved. But many farmers feel reluctant to make necessary improvements for fear of losing the dollars they have invested in the field; but at the same time they are reluctant to ask the landowner to invest to benefit them both. What is lacking in this scenario is solid communication.
Schedule a Meeting
I would recommend having a scheduled time for the landowner and farmer to sit down and meet. This meeting shouldn’t be the only time you come together, but having an agenda to think through and talk about the details of the farm is this meeting’s top priority. Here are some of the agenda items that should be discussed at this meeting:
- Current status of the farm: How is it doing? What do the current soil test look like? How are the yields the last few years and what are some of the limiting factors?
- Future plans for the farm: What major investments need to be made to improve the land? Discuss the current limiting factors that need addressed and put together a plan of action.
- Ownership of the land: What does the future look like for the landowner? Will he or she make any changes in the near future?
- Lease agreement: How long is the lease and what is the price of it? Can the farmer invest if the lease is an attractive length?
- Get to know each other: Don’t just focus on the business of the meeting; this is a unique relationship. Learning a bit about each other will go a long way in this partnership
It is important to have one meeting per year like this at minimum, but making communication something that is done often and with purpose will go a long way. Sometimes when two or more people come together, there is something that just won’t make the relationship work. That is where Bird Dog comes in. Let us help you find the farmer who is right for you and your land.