Monday, July 26, 2010

Pasture Growth by July 25, 2010

The following table shows the growth from pastures participating in the project. For information about the project see the introductory post. The information is reported in pounds of dry matter grown per acre per day. It contains the reported results as of the posting date. Some reports may be delayed for various reasons. Previous week’s information is updated when it is received. The current table will reflect the total information available.

Weekly Pasture Growth for 2010
Week StartingFields sampledMinimum Maximum Average Past 5 yr Average
(no.)(pounds of DM per day)
March 2892.76638.6na
April 4147.793.434.4na
April 11202.4188.356.4na
April 18240.2184.548.660.9
April 25
May 2603.3232.797.778.6
May 9531232.877.886.4
May 16613.825667.4100
May 23323.52518475.7
May 30326.5131.364.658.4
June 6402.7153.448.151
June 13454.1215.264.248.3
June 20306.3136.949.147.4
June 27334.1113.44849.1
July 4234.6123.339.159.8
July 11186.914445.635.5
July 1822080.130.632.3

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fair Pasture Rental

In recent years, landowners and livestock producers have become interested in creative pasture leasing arrangements. From the producer standpoint concerns are long term investments such as: fencing, fertility adjustments, water accessibility/development, and facilities. From a landowner perspective the concerns are: return on land investment, retention of overall farm quality, and soil quality. I see many landowners who desire more income from their farmland and likewise livestock producers who are frustrated with rental adjustments. So what is a fair pasture rental arrangement?

While it is impossible in this article to establish recommendations appropriate for all farms, we will attempt to describe some universally important aspects of a pasture rental arrangement. So what is a pasture worth? A pasture, like a house, crop, field, or anything else being rented, is worth what someone is willing to pay. The price we can charge for land rental is directly related to demand. If we do not have competition for land, then we will be unable to get top dollar. Some parcels do not have a great deal of livestock producers living nearby. If a farmer has to travel great distances to care for livestock, the property is obviously worth less to him. On the other hand, if we have many neighbors who would benefit from the extra ground, the land becomes more valuable. To coin a real estate term, “location, location, location.”

Another factor influencing pasture rental rate is topography. Is the pasture flat and machinery accessible? Pastures which are covered with scrub brush, steep, rocky and partially inaccessible to farm machinery are not as desirable. In other words, pastures and land are not all created equal in terms of suitability for livestock production.

Pasture size makes a difference. The more acres of available pasture, the greater the worth. For example, a ten acre pasture in southeastern Ohio with an annual production of 2.5 tons per acre of forage dry matter would yield 25 tons annually or 50,000 lbs. of forage. If the pasture is one big square with no cross fencing or rotational grazing system developed, then approximately one half of this annual forage dry matter production would be available, or 25,000 lbs. of dry matter. A 1,300 lb. cow eating 2.5% of her body weight per day in forage dry matter, over the course of a year, would need 11863 lbs. of forage dry matter. This means that ten acres of pasture could handle two cows annually. Therefore, size makes a difference. It is not desirable for most livestock producers to carry two cows per farm at several locations. Conversely, a large farm with paddocks developed, good water distribution and livestock working facilities is worth much more.

Landowners who would like to encourage sustainable agricultural practices may want to consider long term pasture leases. Practices such as liming, fertility application, fencing and water development are long term investments. It will take livestock producers several years to recoup investments such as these. For this reason landowners may encourage these improvements to their property in a written lease agreement which lasts several consecutive years.

Other equally important aspects of a pasture rental arrangement include:
· Liability protection – The landowner should not be held liable for the production practices of the renter or their employees.
· Government program participation – To encourage farm improvements landowners and renters should address eligibility for government programs in a written lease agreement.
· Sub leasing – Does your lease describe what is being leased and if it can be assigned?
· Payment terms – When is the rent due and what are the consequences if the rent is not paid on time?

Landowners and livestock producers can arrive at an agreeable pasture rental arrangement. Both the property owner and livestock producer should make a list of items important to them. Look at the educational lease information provided by your local OSU Extension office. Attempt to describe these arrangements in a written document. Finally, sit down with an attorney and review the agreement. A written lease agreement is peace of mind, assuring both parties and protecting the interest of each.