Adding Conservation to your Farm Lease

What about adding conservation to you farm lease?farm lease

I have had several questions lately from landowners asking about including conservation leases. I first want to clarify that for the most part, a conservation lease is really no different than any other farm lease. All land rental lease and even crop share agreements have the same general information. Much of this information is legal in nature and I definitely recommend talking to your attorney to make sure thing are in line. Some of the common sections of the lease would include an intro documenting the two parties and the date in which the agreement will take place. Most leases also include:

  1. Property Description
  2. General Terms of the Leas
  3. Land Use
  4. Amount and Payment of the Rent
  5. Operation and Maintenance of the Farm

The first four sections of the farm lease do not change much in a conservation lease. But the fifth section, Operation and Maintenance, is where you amend your lease based on the priorities of each party. So what are some of the priorities of a conservation lease?


No-till has become a very good way of preventing soil erosion and keeping soil as well as water on the field. Adding a line item to identify what types of tillage will be used on your farm would be an excellent first step.

Soil Test Levels

Setting goals on nutrient levels can be worthwhile as well. The more detailed you can be in determining what these levels are and how to work toward them, the more chance you will have to achieve your desired goals. One thing to keep in mind with setting soil test goals is that the soil is a dynamic system. There are many factors that influence soil test levels, so don’t live and die by these numbers. Instead use them to make changes that better promote air and water management and soil health.

Buffers and Waterways

The other valuable addition would be identifying the use of buffer strips and grass waterways. A conservation-minded farmer is always looking and identifying areas that need improvement. Using conservation practices like this will help reduce soil loss and keep water on the field.

Cover Crops

Another amendment to this section would be to add when and how often cover crops will be used on your farm. Many farmers are reluctant to explore cover crops, so working with a consultant or agronomist would be a wise choice. At the same time, there are many really good farmers who have weathered the storm of using and understanding cover crops. You may just need to find one, and that’s where Bird Dog can help.

Conservation Programs

The final thing I will mention today is identifying and including what NRCS and cost share programs you should be involved in. You may not know all the program available today, but being open to these options could be very beneficial.

Just remember, create this lease to fit your needs and your goals. You and the farmer renting your land can work together to come up with a solid plan to improve the quality of soil and water. If you are looking to add conservation amendments to your farm lease and would like to see an example, just connect with me and I can share one with you. Always keep in mind that this is a legal document so make sure to seek legal advice when putting the one together that you need.

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