Need help putting conservation plans into land leases? Click here

Iowa farmland
About the author
Reporter, Iowa Public Radio
Kathleen Masterson was a Harvest reporter, based in Ames, Iowa, from 2010 to spring 2012.

A typical farmland lease outlines the rent price and the acres to be farmed, but very few have language about a conservation plan, according to Neil Hamilton, director of the Drake University Agricultural Law Center in Des Moines. 

But Hamilton said it’s important that landowners and tenants discuss questions like:  “Do you have a conservation plan?  Will you comply with it? Where are grass waterways? What type of crop rotation or fertility issues are we dealing with?”

That’s why the center, along with Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, launched a website March 2 to help guide landowners on sustainability issues.

The Sustainable Farm Lease website focuses on prioritizing goals for the land and gives suggestions for how to discuss conservation issues with tenant farmers.  It also has sample sustainable farm leases.

As the country's population ages, much of the farmland is changing hands.  And many new owners may not have agriculture experience, Hamilton said, so the website is an important resource for owners looking to ensure their land is farmed in a sustainable way.