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LSP Report LS7008

Differences in Soil Conservation between
Operator-Owned and Rented Land

Researchers: Dr. W. van Vuuren, Dept. of Ag. Economics and Business, University of Guelph, Principal Researcher

Funding: $29,370


  1. To compare soil management practices affecting soil erosion or its prevention between rented and owner-operated land.
  2. To examine whether or not there are differences in management practices among tenants, and if so whether these differences are related to the contract.
  3. To examine how well the stewardship lease under the Land Stewardship Program is working. In all cases the analysis will be control for soil quality. The information provided by the analysis is crucial to -
    1. identify what effect tenancy has on soil conservation
    2. identify what the relationship is between the content of the lease and soil management practices
    3. to design optimal contract terms in case certain tenancy forms have negative effects on soil conservation and others have a positive effect.

Expected Benefits

  1. To confirm whether or not significant differences exist in soil management practices as was found eight years previous.
  2. To determine whether remedial measures are necessary for contractual agreements with tenants.

Summary of Research Results

The results indicate poorer soil quality on the rented land. In the majority of cases, poorer soil drainage, more gully erosion, ponding and loss of organic matter are found to be inherent characteristics of the rental parcels. Evidence also exists to suggest that flooding tends to occur more frequently on the rented land. Operator-owned lands tend to be more stony and consists of shallower soils than the rented land.

Few differences in annual crop and soil management practices are found. Manure application is observed to occur more frequently on owned land. Contour planting is observed to occur more frequently on rented land. Overall there is no difference in the incidence of erosion control and compaction correction practices between owner and rented land. However, when erosion or compaction occurs on both the owned and rented parcels simultaneously, there is a tendency that annual erosion control and compaction correction practices occur more frequently compared to a situation where erosion and/or compaction occur on only one parcel, either the operator-owned or the rented parcel. Frequency of stone picking does not differ significantly with respect to land tenure. Neither does continuous cropping of corn and beans.

Differences in the employment of durable soil inputs between operator-owned and rented land are observed. Significantly more tile drainage and installation of wind breaks would be done the more certain land tenure is. However, it is also indicated that significantly more fence row clearance would be done if the rental parcel were to be purchased.

Written leases are found to be associated significantly more frequently with soil conserving practices, such as, chisel plowing, erosion control, compaction correction, and planting wind breaks.

Cash rental payments are found to be more frequently associated with manure application, erosion control and liming, while fall plowing tends to be found more often with crop share rental agreements.

Kinship to the landlord is found not to be significantly related to either annual or durable land management practices, although tile drainage is more frequent on land rented from a relative.

Long-term debt is not significantly related to the deployment of any durable soil input.

Lease lengths greater than one year are found to be significantly related to the increased frequency of annual soil conserving practices. These practices include: manure application, plowdown crops, inclusion of winter cover crops, chisel plowing and erosion control methods. Potential soil degrading practices, such as, moldboard plowing and fence row clearance also occur more frequently with lease lengths greater than one year. Stone picking also occurs more frequently with lease lengths greater than one year.

Tenant expected occupancy greater than 10 years is positively related to: plowdown crops, inclusion of winter cover crops, tile drainage and moldboard plowing. Fall plowing, on the other hand, is more frequent with tenant expected occupancies less than 10 years.

Manure application, erosion control and tile drainage occur more frequently with the presence of relevant lease obligations.

Therefore, it appears that lease type and lease length exhibit the major impacts on annual crop soil management practices. No one lease content and/or lease characteristic in particular exerts major influence on the deployment of durable soil inputs.

Since annual land management practices do not differ between operator-owned and rented land, the existing differences in soil quality between owned and rented land must either result from inherent poorer soil quality of the rental parcels or differing deployment frequencies of durable soil inputs.

The results conclude that the presence of written leases, increased lease length and the inclusion of binding lease obligations will increase the frequency of annual crop and soil management practices conducive to soil conservation. Lease content and/or lease characteristics in our sample exerted little influence on tenant decisions regarding the deployment of durable soil inputs.

In the authors' opinion, increased soil conservation on rented land may be achieved by encouraging written, longer term lease arrangements with compensation clauses for unexhausted durable soil inputs at the expiry date of the lease. More work, however, needs to be done in the area of adapting these type of leasing arrangements into Ontario agriculture as presently the concepts are foreign to most landlords.



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Created: 03-23-1996
Last Revised: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 11:47:00 AM