Professional Development for the Adoption of Sustainable Agriculture on Rented Land
Approximately one half of the cropland in Iowa is farmed by someone other that the landowner. The nature of these land rental arrangements varies widely, but anecdotal evidence from farmers, landowners, and Extension and other agency staff indicates that rented land often presents additional barriers to adoption of sustainable agriculture. What little research exists on this subject generally supports this contention. Given the extent of rented land, real progress towards a sustainable agriculture requires addressing the challenges posed by land rental.
1) To help key agricultural professionals work with farmers and landowners on the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices on rented land.
2) To collect information on the barriers to the adoption of sustainable agriculture on rented land.
3) To design training and techniques for agricultural professionals on the adoption of sustainable agriculture on rented lands.
4) To train agricultural professionals in Iowa to work with landowners and producers to assist them in the adoption of sustainable agricultural techniques on rented land.
5) To share project results and training materials with professional development coordinators and others across the North Central Region.
This project will begin by working with renters, landowners and agricultural agency professionals to document in greater detail how the rental relationship affects adoption of sustainable agricultural practices and to determine what tools and techniques could help facilitate communication about the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices on rented land. There will be a special attempt to look at situations where at least one of the parties in the rental agreement would like to manage the land more sustainably and also to understand successful examples of progress towards sustainability on rented lands. This stage of the project will rely on focus group and personal interviews to gain the needed information.
One or more brief Extension publications will be prepared summarizing the lessons learned from talking with landlords, farmers, and ag professionals. These publications will be distributed to Extension, NRCS, and FSA field staff. A tabletop display for use at conferences and meetings will also be developed.
Drawing on information gained in the initial stage of the project, we will work with interested Extension field staff to facilitate adoption of sustainable agricultural practices in three rental situations. This portion of the project will serve as pilot exercises for future efforts.
Farmers, landowners, and Extension staff involved in the initial project stages will give presentations on the lessons drawn from the pilot exercises and information from the initial stage to agency professionals throughout the state at regular in-service training. Project results will also be shared with Professional Development staff throughout the North Central Region through newsletter articles, a presentation and/or display at regional meetings, and through sharing the educational materials and extension publications developed by the project.