Although many of you are probably still wrapping up harvest, it isn’t too early to start thinking ahead and planning for next year’s growing season. 

If you’re wanting to plant cover crops on rented ground next year, this is an ideal time to have a conversation with your landlord about what you’re planning to do and why.

Your landlord may or may not be aware of the many soil health benefits cover crops can provide, including erosion prevention, improving soil biological activity, restoring nutrients, weed suppression, improving water infiltration, deterring pests, reducing soil compaction and more.

Approach that conversation in such a way that it makes clear that the soil health benefits are in the landlord’s best interests. They’re supporting an investment in the long-term health of the soil, which will make the land more productive and profitable. Remembering the old phrase, “What’s in it for me?” is critical to giving this conversation the best chance to go well.

If you own the land and don’t have your own livestock, it might be worth considering partnering with a local livestock producer to allow them to graze livestock in a pasture where cover crops were grown. This could result in a bit of additional income for your operation, although it can be challenging to determine what to charge the livestock producer.

There are a variety of tools available online to help break down the charges and do the math to estimate costs for you as the grower and the livestock producer. Montana State University Extension has a free online pasture lease calculator that clearly shows the various expenses and a guide on pasture lease agreements.

Cover crops can be a huge benefit to landowners, growers and livestock producers. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation with your landlord and look for ways to diversify your income by renting out cover crop fields for grazing.

Had a successful conversation with your landlord? We’d love to hear about it! Email me at