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Women Learn More about Caring for the Land

July 18, 2014

YANKTON, S.D. – More women in South Dakota are becoming active in owning or managing farmland, and rural advocates say some basic information can help them find success and improve their land.

The Center for Rural Affairs recently held a workshop to provide some tips.

Traci Bruckner, a senior associate for agriculture and conservation policy with the Center, points out women often find they have to work with tenants on their land.

"There's a lot of women who are left holding the land after their husbands pass away, and they're working with tenants, she explains. “And they want to do as much as they can to preserve the conservation on the land, and sometimes, they find that they run into a little bit of trouble working with some tenants who don't think women have the position to exercise their authority there."

Workshop participants got a tour of local fields and a demonstration of soil testing, and Bruckner says the Center plans to do several similar workshops each year.

She says the Center worked with the women in understanding how important cover crops can be.

"With the cropping systems that, you know, make up the dominant landscape on the agricultural land, it's really important that farmers consider integrating cover crops,” she says. “And we talked about how they can integrate cover crops and how that works – how that applies, how we can get people there."

Bruckner says the Center also touched on some legal issues that could affect landowners interested in conservation.

"And we talked to them about how they could structure long-term leases, because if they are going expect their tenant to, you know, put some value into their land by adding conservation practices, there is some time they need to learn that process,” she explains. “And so, if they have a little more guarantee on how long they're going to have access to the land, it can be a real incentive for the tenant to work with the women landowners to integrate those conservation practices."

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD