Know Your Farmland’s Key Metrics

May 15, 2018 04:00 AM
Properly managing your farmland goes beyond determining your rental rate.

Properly managing your farmland goes beyond determining your rental rate. “To ensure your land is reaching maximum productivity and profitability takes year-round effort, which requires time and dedication,” says Mark Gannon, owner of Gannon Real Estate & Consulting in Ames, Iowa.

Take a comprehensive look at your farmland, focusing on financial, agronomic and environmental stewardship metrics, Gannon suggests.

Gather past and present data for rental rates, profitability, fertilizer information, soil test results, yield maps, crop insurance claims, etc. This will help you clearly assess the present status of your land, Gannon says. 

To obtain some of this farm data, include specific language in your rental agreement. “Operators collect tremendous amounts of data on all of the properties they farm and use it to make informed decisions, which helps increase their profits,” Gannon says. “This should be no different for landowners. The majority of operators are willing to provide data to their landlords.”

By collecting and analyzing this information, you can set financial, agronomic or conservation goals for your farmland. The same is true for your tenant.

“Everybody wants to do the best thing for the property,” Gannon says. “Full disclosure of this information helps to do that.”  

What to Request from Your Tenant

To fully understand your farm’s production and profit capacity, you need access to agronomic information, says Mark Gannon, owner of Gannon Real Estate & Consulting. Create a list of the information you want to receive from your operator. Consider the following items: 

  • Acreage Planted: The crops planted in each field, as well as the planting rates. 
  • Fertilizer Applied: The fertilizer types and rates for each field. 
  • Crop Chemicals Used: The date of application and application rate for each chemical. 
  • Soil Tests: The date and type (grid, zone, etc.) for every soil test completed on each field.
  • Yield Results: Insurance quotes, yield maps or scale tickets to show per-acre yields for each field. You might also want to request historical yields.

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