Two farmers in a field
REGISTER NOW: Registration is open for the July 27 conference focused on landowners and soil stewardship at Drake University in Des Moines. It is a full day of information targeted for landowners, especially non-operators.

SOIL 2017: Cultivating your investment

Sustaining Our Iowa Land conference is geared toward farmland owners.

The Drake University Agricultural Law Center is hosting a statewide conference to help landowners share their experiences and learn how to protect their land, care for the soil and water, and develop the value of their farmland. It will be July 27 at the Olmsted Center on the Drake University campus in Des Moines.

Held in cooperation with Farmland Stewardship Solutions, the Iowa Water Center, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and The Nature Conservancy, the conference is titled “Sustaining Our Iowa Land (SOIL) 2017: Cultivating Your Investment — Landowners and Stewardship.”

Focus on being a better landowner
“Our work on agricultural sustainability continues,” says Neil Hamilton, director emeritus of the Agricultural Law Center. “We are excited to be partnering with Iowa leaders to put more conservation on Iowa farms. There is growing concern Iowa’s commitment to protecting soil and water resources has waned. Our goal is to help landowners refocus their efforts to not only improve their own farms, but to help Iowa again become a leader in protecting our state’s greatest resource.”

“We help landowners develop the natural resource that is their farm,” says Mark Gannon, owner of Farmland Stewardship Solutions, a farmland consulting firm based in Des Moines. “This conference is a great way for our company to partner with the Drake Agricultural Law Center and other Iowa groups to empower Iowa farmland owners to combine agricultural productivity and environmental stewardship. The Iowa agricultural community has to do a better job of helping the owners of the farmland and the farmers who farm it work together for a more sustainable future. This conference is a commitment to that work.”

Develop better lease for your farmland
The goal of SOIL 2017 is for landowners to develop a better lease for their land — one that’s environmentally responsible, is economically sound and protects the land for the future. Landowners attending can learn how conservation and sustainable farming practices are compatible with modern farm production and be profitable for both the landowner and the tenant.

Conference speakers come from a variety of backgrounds and experience. Topics they will cover include the landowner’s role in stewardship, conservation and the economics of working together, the power of on-farm data, systematic and sustainable leasing, the farm as an ecosystem, open communications with tenants, soil health on the farm, the cost of mismanaging the soil, navigating land improvement programs, land trusts, conservation decisions on rented land, and preservations of the family’s heritage.

Panel discussions will field questions
Rounding out the conference will be a landowner and a farmer panel discussion, addressing topics such as how to develop a lasting partnership, ways of keeping the landowner informed on what’s happening on the farm, and how to discuss conservation practices and the economic returns impacting both parties. Both panels will take questions from the audience.

The conference is designed for an Iowa audience, “but others are welcome to attend, as the issues we’re dealing with in Iowa are important in other states,” says Gannon. You can register online.

Founded in 1983, the Drake Agricultural Law Center is dedicated to providing opportunities to study how the legal system shapes our food system and influences the ability of the agricultural sector to produce, market and use agricultural products. To learn more about the SOIL Conference, registration and sponsorship, visit


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