We have a farm in southern Iowa that we've owned since 2019. It has 180 acres that has been in CRP for at least 20 years; some 30 or more, all in a single CRP contract that will expire in September 2023. Another 40 acres was brome/orchard hay when we bought the farm, which we converted to no-till corn/soy rotation with fall cover crops. The whole farm average CSR2 is 65, with the better soils in a central valley/bottom area (100 acres or so of 0-5% slopes Nodaway, Kennebec, Vesser, Colo) and rolling hills (80 acres or so of 5-9% slopes of Weller, Pershing) and the rest steeper 40 acres of 9-18% slopes of Gara, Armstrong, Adair). Generally speaking, fields range from 30 to 80 acres in size, bordered by wooded creek edges and draws. Organic matter levels are generally 4-5%, P&K generally on the low side (we hope to receive some manure from a nearby sow farm) and ph averages around 6.4.
We're awaiting CRP bid for renewal options, but currently planning to put all but the steepest 40 acres back into production. We plan to place tile mains in the most problematic areas of the bottoms first. We no longer farm ourselves, and this is a hunting/recreational/investment farm for us. We have a 100hp cab tractor and notill drill we've been handling the cover crop seeding and expect that to continue. We also have a 75hp track skid loader, tree shear, puller, brush mower and have been busy reclaiming areas from cottonwood, boxelder, and thankfully only the occasional cedar.
We plan to weigh options of CRP rates and cash/flex rent rates and overall economics before deciding what to do. I'm interested in others thoughts as we decide what the next 10 years look like. One factor we have in mind is the state of the current CRP grass/forb stand. I would argue that a couple years of notill could really help clean up some of the shorter bluegrass/brome/weeds that have no real redeeming habitat value before reseeding with a native CRP mix, but expect those 40 acres to be a loss leader. Ideally I see this 300 acre farm as 120 of pattern tiled tillable, 100 of high quality CRP and remainder timbered creek/draw.
We have a young, ambitious and conservation-minded tenant who we feel will treat us well and take care of the farm. Larger operators are nearby and we expect rent to be fairly competitive. We have a preference for row crop as CRP has plenty of headaches. Still we like the wildlife benefits and erosion protections of CRP.