Farming hilly land can pose problems relating to soil conservation, water quality, and increased rainfall runoff. Particular attention should be paid to protecting this land through land use provisions that limit activities on highly erodible fields or to provisions that require contour farming, terraces, grass waterways, and other soil conservation practices.  The importance of keeping crop residue on the property also increases.

Soil Conservation:

  • Tenant shall clip waterways as necessary for maintenance of soil conservation practices.
  • The Tenant will employ contour farming.
  • The Tenant will employ strip cropping.
  • No-till shall be used on designated fields.
  • A cover crop shall be seeded on corn ground harvested for silage.
  • Corn and soybean fields shall have sufficient ground cover at planting time to control erosion within soil loss limits set under the conservation plan.
  • Erosion shall be controlled in farm pond watersheds.

Required Conservation Plans

In addition, land that is classified by the Farm Service Agency as highly erodible must have a conservation plan in place to limit soil loss below sustainable levels.  If the soil loss does exceed acceptable limits the farm’s eligibility for USDA program payments could be jeopardized. However, if a conservation plan is already in place, it should not be presumed that this plan inherently assures a sustainable farm operation.  Go over the plan with your tenant and NRCS personnel to check its adequacy and address any discrepancies.  It is also a good practice to include a provision that requires periodic joint reviews and updates of your conservation plan.