Dakota Farmer

SDSU Extension’s annual Farm Real Estate Survey shows a decline of 2.9% in average cropland values.

August 24, 2020

2 Min Read
A for-sale sign on a plot of farmland
FOR SALE: A for-sale sign stands on the edge of a parcel of land in central South Dakota. Cropland values in the central region fell 7% since last year, according to the annual Farm Real Estate Survey. Lon Tonneson

The average value of non-irrigated cropland in South Dakota decreased 2.9% from 2019 to 2020. It declined from $3,747 per acre to $3,638 per acre. The state’s average survey value for pasture and rangeland was down 3.4%, compared to 2019.

The figures are from the South Dakota State University Extension Services’ annual Farm Real Estate Survey.

Big changes

The percentage of change from 2019 to 2020 in cropland survey values varied widely across the state, according to Jack Davis, South Dakota State University Extension farm specialist who compiled a report on the survey.

Surveyed cropland values rose 0.6% in the east-central region. The biggest drop, 13.6%, was reported in the southwest region. The percentage change in other regions were:

  • Southeast — down 4.6%

  • Northeast — down 0.2%

  • North Central — down 2.2%

  • Central — down 7%

  • South Central — down 1.9%

  • Northwest — down 6.4%

The percentage change in the survey value of pasture and rangeland varied widely, too. The east-central region had the biggest decline at 15.2%. Values were 3.5% higher than in 2019 in the southwest region.


Average cash rental rates per acre reported in the survey decreased $13 for cropland and $3 for pasture and rangeland from 2019 to 2020.

Rent for nonirrigated cropland varied from $29 in the southwest to $179 per acre in the southeast.

Average cash rental rates for pasture ranged from $15 per-acre in the northwest region to $64 per acre in the northeast region.

The average per pair monthly rental rates for 2020 ranged from $37 to $58 for the grazing season. Average yearling rental rates in the survey varied from $21 to $43, depending on location.

Reasons for buying, selling

Farm expansion was the top reason why people bought land, according to survey respondents. It came in at 56%.

Buying land as a form of investment accounted for 7% of responses. Purchasing land based on the location accounted for 30% of responses. Other reasons accounted for 7% of responses.

The respondents said retirement was the top reason, at 31%, for selling land. Settling estates and increasing liquidity came in at 29% each.

Survey details

Responses to the survey were from agricultural lenders, Farm Service Agency officials, rural appraisers, assessors, realtors, professional farm managers and SDSU Extension field specialists. All were said to be familiar with farm real estate market trends in their areas.

The survey is an overview and may or may not reflect actual land values or cash rental rates unique to specific localities or properties, Davis wrote in his report. Use this report as a general reference and rely on local sources for specific details.

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