Improving Your Farmland Productivity

March 02, 2012

Increasing your farm’s productivity has never made more sense than it does at this time. We are completing drainage improvements on our managed farms at a record pace. We believe the time is now to investigate surface drainage, tile drainage and soil conservation.

Several factors have come together to create a real value to improving your farm’s productivity.

High Commodity Prices - With corn over $5.00 per bushel and soybeans over $12.00 per bushel, it doesn’t take as many bushels of increased yield to give a positive return to funds invested in improved drainage. Not that many years ago, corn was near $2.00 per bushel and soybeans near $6.00 per bushel. With today’s higher prices, it would take less increase in yields to warrant an investment in improved drainage.

High Value of Farmland - Along with higher grain prices, farmland values have increased to where top quality farmland is exceeding $10,000 per acre. Bringing unproductive land into production is like buying $10,000 per acre land for the cost of the drainage improvement. Soil conservation makes more sense in that the value of the soil lost to erosion is much higher than it was in the past.

Weather Cycles - The past few years have brought more intense rainfall more often. The result is more areas lost to production due to increased ponding and erosion of soil.

Competing Investments - The rate of return on CD’s and other government backed instruments are paying a very low rate of interest. There does not need to be as great a rate of return to productive improvements as there was prior to the recession.

Larger Farm Machinery - The farmer’s capacity to plant more acres per hour with larger planters makes waiting for that one wet spot to dry more costly. The present 24 row planters make it more difficult to farm around wet areas than when planters were 6 rows. Holding up planting a whole farm due to a wet spot hurts the yield for the entire farm, in addition to the area that is poorly drained.

Aging Drainage Tile Systems - Subsurface drainage appears to be slowly deteriorating. The original clay drainage tiles were installed over 100 years ago. The gradual reducing capacity of these aging systems generally goes unnoticed until a severe rainfall event overloads these systems.

Farm managers, as agents for the owner, look out for their best interest. We are well qualified to evaluate the benefits of improved productivity to the owner as well as the farm tenant. We are uniquely qualified to make adjustments in lease terms to recognize the increased productivity potential on a particular farm.

We have the experience of managing many acres and completing numerous projects each year. We value the tenants intense experience on the land they have been working for years, and can combine these two strengths to most effectively and efficiently design improvements for your farmland.

Please feel free to contact any of our farm managers. We particularly enjoy the aspect of our job which improves farm productivity and conserves soil

We keep abreast on many of the current issues facing rural landowners, these trends and topics are highlighted in our “Field Notes” newsletter. Below are some key topics for owners and farmers.