At Tillable, we spend a lot of time researching and placing the best farmer on every farm. With over 16,000 great farmers on our platform, we have a lot of people to consider! In fact, the average farm on Tillable has over 200 eligible farmers within 30 miles.
Many of our landowners have questions about how we evaluate farmers. For a brief explanation of the process, click here. But in case you’re curious, we wanted to provide you with the ultimate guide to farmer selection below. Each section has a link to a full Tillable blog post with more detail.
Understand what to look for in a great farmer
As a landowner, your main goal is knowing that your farm is being used productively while also being well cared for. Most landowners think they already have a great farmer in place, and many do, but it isn’t always going to be the case.
Here are a few tips to help you understand what a “great” farmer truly looks like, so you can see if that describes the farmer you work with today. Do they suggest improvement projects for the land? Do they communicate with you on a regular basis? Do they routinely mow ditches and control weeds in fence lines? Read the full blog post to see what else to look for.
Have focused interviews with multiple farmers
You wouldn’t hire an employee without interviewing them first, and you typically wouldn’t want to hire the first person you meet, either. So why wouldn’t you interview someone who will care for one of your most valuable assets?
Does your potential farmer understand your expectations for data reporting? How will they communicate with you? What farming practices do they employ? Farmer interviews might require a small time commitment, but they’re worth it to ensure you have a farmer who you’re comfortable with.
Check out our seven key tips for interviewing farmers.
Check your farmer's references
Once you have completed farmer interviews, it’s time to check references for your top picks. There are three major references that you should be requesting from your potential farmer and certain questions you should be asking each one of those references. For instance, have you spoken to a past landlord who isn’t a family member?
Understand why this matters, and learn who else you should speak to, read about the power of a good reference.
Negotiate a deal
When it’s time to renegotiate your farmland rental agreement, remember that the landowner-tenant relationship has to begin with transparency about the farm’s performance. It’s critical you have a strong foundation of trust in place.
It’s also essential to be well informed before entering into negotiations. Do you have the data showing how the farm performed compared with county averages? Do you know how your soil quality stacks up locally?
To understand how to prepare for negotiations, and how to handle them with friends and family, read here.
Evaluate your farmer's performance annually
Yield data is a vital indicator of the health of your farm, yet most landowners don’t receive this critical information. Not only does it help you get a baseline understanding of the performance of the farm, it tells you important information about your farmer’s practices, and has a huge impact on the value of the farm.
We explain why you need to talk to your farmer about yield data in this blog post.
Hold up your end of the bargain
Once a great farmer has secured a lease on a farm, the landowner must also hold up their end of the bargain. In a cash rental agreement, whether you’re the farmer or the farmland owner, it’s important you’re on the same page to ensure that you both will meet your goals for the growing season.
This blog post of ours has been around for a while, but it explains in more detail some of the steps you can take to be a great landlord on your farm.
What if I need a new farmer?
If your farmer no longer wants to rent your land, or you’re looking for a new farmer, Tillable can help. Click the link below to get started on a Hassle-Free Lease with Tillable, and we’ll find a great local farmer for you!