Determining a good farmer
Farming is an art and sometimes it is hard to tell just how well the farmer is doing. But the secret is in the soil. Doing frequent soil sampling will show you if a farmer’s management practices are improving the soil or not. An Ontario study showed that after farmers have rented a farm for more than 5 years, they begin to treat it with the same care as if they owned it. If farmland is an investment for you, then it is wise to invest time and energy into finding a good farmer who will in turn invest in your soil.
There are a number of soil best management practices that are promoted with government cost-share programs, Healthy soils hold together to minimize topsoil erosion and fertilizer runoff that can contribute to water quality problems, such as in the Great Lakes. To make healthy soil, it is important to balance pH, reduce soil disturbance from tillage, grow a diverse crop rotation, and cover the ground with crop residue or cover crops that protect the soil and also feed micro-organisms (which in turn create good amounts of organic matter that absorb water to further minimize erosion). Learn more about soil health here.