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11. Randy Dell – Equipping Farmers to Talk About Conservation on Rented Ground

Industry partnerships

Did you know about 50% of U.S. farm ground is rented from non-operating landowners? And that, in the Midwest, that percentage can be as high as 80-90%? As we continue to see more and more farm ground operated by someone other than the person who owns the land, it becomes critical for farmers to have the tools to talk about conservation practices and approaches with their land owners – who may or may not understand the role those practices play in sustainability and profitability.

That’s where Randy Dell and his work with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) comes in.

In this episode of The People of Soil Health Podcast, John Mesko sits down with Randy to talk about how TNC (along with other industry partners) is equipping farmers with the resources they need to work proactively with their landlords on conservation strategies – including soil health management practices, like cover crops and reduced tillage.

“They don’t want to hear from The Nature Conservancy. They don’t want to hear from other groups. They want to hear from their farmer,” says Randy, when asked about which messages and resources resonate with landowners. “So, the better we can equip farmers to have that conversation – to demonstrate the good things they’re doing on the ground and to motivate landowners to join them on that journey – that’s where we think we can help landowners the most.”

Over the course of their conversation, John and Randy discuss:

  • Barriers to implementing conservation practices on rented ground – what gets in the way?
  • Who are landowners, demographically speaking? What do they care about?
  • What tools are available for farmers who want to talk to their landowner about conservation approaches? What are best practices for that discussion?

“These landowners are, generally, committed to their farmer. They want to see their farmer succeed. Often it’s a relative or a close family friend,” Randy says. “They maybe don’t know what conservation practices might be implemented on their land, but they trust their farmer to be making those decisions – making good and the right decisions.”

To hear the full episode, click the link above or subscribe to The People of Soil Health in your favorite podcast player.

Episode Resource: A Healthy, Profitable Future Starts with a Conversation