Cover Crop Use and Implications for Cropland Lease Arrangements in 2019

Cover Crop Use and Implications for Cropland Lease Arrangements in 2019

The Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Survey and Report 2018-2019 provides insight on recent trends in the market value of land and cash rental across the state. Each year the special feature section from this report covers topics on new or emerging issues related to the agricultural land industry in Nebraska. These topics reflect interest expressed by panel members and readership of the Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Highlights Reports. The special feature section in 2019 focuses on trends and considerations for cover crops across Nebraska and implications on cropland lease arrangements.

The July 3 Cornhusker Economics reviews cover crop data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture (the most recent survey available) as well as cover crop planting information from its own real estate survey.

"Division of cover crop establishment expenses remains a provision to consider in a cropland lease arrangement. Benefits from utilizing a cover crop may exceed the length of the current lease."

"Panel members [responding to the most recent ag land real estate survey] indicated that slightly over 80% of land leases do not provide a discount to tenants for planting cover crops. About 15% of leases provided a small discount, between $1 and  $9 per acre. Opportunities exist in lease negotiations to more equitability divide cover crop expenses," write the authors.

Table 1 reports cover crop planting information by district. In the full article view county data as well as a discussion on how to consider cover crops when negotiating farmland leases.

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Table 1. Cover crop practices for cropland and Operators in 2017, by Agricultural Statistics District in Nebraska. (Source: USDA 2017 Ag Census and July 3, 2019, Cornhusker Economics)
Planted Acres
Cover Crops
Planted Acres
Cropland Acres
Planted to
Cover Crops (%)
Number of Operators
Planting Cover Crops
Number of Operators
Planting Cropland
Cropland Operators
Who Planted
Cover Crops (%)
Northwest 52,884 2,904,637 1.8 274 3,682 7.4
North 57,989 1,820,397 3.2 306 2,686 11.4
Northeast 133,885 3,630,051 3.7 960 6,717 14.3
Central 98,485 2,048,103 4.8 585 3,949 14.8
East 186,216 4,214,043 4.4 1,102 9,695 11.4
Southwest 60,853 2,489,757 2.4 265 2,686 9.9
South 83,247 1,878,089 4.4 343 2,431 14.1
Southeast 73,203 3,257,522 2.2 584 6,238 9.4
State 747,903 22,242,599 3.4 4,419 38,084 11.6

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