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Expanding, growing with rented land

Expanding, growing with rented land
A North Dakota beginning farmer built a grain operation of several thousand acres all on rented land.

By Luann Dart

Terry and Misty Nagel, Carson, N.D., are young farmers who have done grown their operation to finding additional land to rent. They farm nearly several thousand acres in southwest North Dakota now and are raising spring wheat, corn, sunflowers, soybeans and rye. One hundred percent of the operation is on rented land. They even rent bin sites and machinery storage.

The Nagel have some tips for other young farmers who are trying to get their farming careers going by renting.

Terry and Misty Nagel farm several thousand acres – all of it rented.

Think of rented land in terms of "units" rather than "acres," Terry suggests. "Look at the unit as a whole," You rent one unit and you might have two quarters that are the best ever and then you have that one quarter that is sandy and wants to blow. You can't tell the landowner, 'I'll just take those two quarters.' It doesn't work that way."

Keep an open relationship with the landowners, he advises.

"Talk to them whenever you get a chance, no matter what you're doing. I always make that extra step to go talk to them, even if it's two words, I always try to make the extra effort," he says. "You want to let them know how the land is doing."

Terry holds one- to five-year contracts with landowners, with about two-thirds on paper and the rest as verbal agreements.

Negotiating the cash rent tough, he says, because he must remain profitable. He pays competitive rental rates and negotiates other details.

Some contracts also address hunting rights, fencing, cutting roadside ditches, noxious weeds and straw residue remaining on the fields.

The Nagels aren't afraid of renting land that is some distance away from their other parcels.

"We fold up and go," Misty says.

Being spread out has its advantages. If its too wet in one area, it may be okay in another.

"Moving doesn't bother me; to keep going is the thing," Terry says.

Read more in the May issue of Dakota Farmer. See page 4.

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