During the development and compilation of this report, each of the experts interviewed was asked to provide us with 3 questions that their clients should ask when determining whether or not they should move forward with the solutions presented by the experts. Following are the questions the experts say need to be asked by the client and answered by the experts for each of the case studies presented in the September 2015 issue of Farm Equipment.

Questions & Answers by Sam Clark, Halderman Farm Management Service, Noblesville, Ind.  

1. How is my investment in this leased land protected? 

There are 2 simple ways to do this. One is to develop a long-term lease for added security. One issue with a long-term lease, though, is that lease terms and rents tend to fluctuate much more frequently in today’s agricultural environment. It could be disadvantageous for a producer or a landlord to be locked into specific terms for many years. 

The other way to address this, and the way we recommend, is by adding a simple Tiling Addendum to a regular lease. A regular lease that we use would be a 1-year lease that is renewed annually with the producer. This allows both the producer and the landowner to reevaluate market conditions and negotiate a lease that is fair each year. 

The Tiling Addendum incorporates language in the lease that gives the farmer the right to recoup his or her investment if he or she leaves the farm before a specified number of years. In this case study, a duration of 7 years was used. Thus, if the producer no longer farmed the tiled farm before 7 years were up, then the farmer would get paid back on a prorated basis the remaining portion of his/her investment. Now, if the farmer gives up the farm because of retirement, inability to agree on lease terms, or for whatever reason, there is security in place for peace of mind.

2. How can I be sure that the tile spacing will be adequate? 

In our area, tile contractors will typically tell you that the 4-inch tile laterals should be placed 40-45 feet apart across the field. Academics and other experts generally agree that excellent drainage can be achieved using spacings of 40-60 feet and good drainage achieved at spacings around 50-100 feet. 

These spacings are highly dependent on the soil types on the farm, and are applicable for soils that are typically clay and silty loam mixes. Tighter clay soils require narrower spacing, while sandier soils can handle wider spacing. On spacing, we typically recommend something similar to what was used in this case study. We have seen good results using 80-90 foot spacing for the majority of the farm with narrower spacing (40-45 feet) in wet areas. 

3. How much might the actual cost differ from the estimated cost or what is the biggest variable in the cost of the project?

We typically try to work with tile and ditching contractors that provide very good cost estimates that are worst-case scenarios with the possibility of coming in lower once the work is done. That said, the most variable aspect of the project typically centers on the main tiles/outlets and existing tile in the field. 

While the bulk of the cost will be in the laterals, this cost is usually pretty straightforward to estimate, as it won’t change much, once the project is designed. What could cause changes is if existing tile in the farm are or are not able to be utilized. 

Another big factor is the mains and outlets. Having a good outlet on the farm is crucial for good drainage and cost savings. An open ditch on the farm or a large county tile running through the farm are the ideal situations. If you have a farm with a less than ideal situation, you could see increased costs associated with running larger sized tile (12-15 inch tile) over long distances. How far you have to run your large main tiles will play a big role in total cost. If the original outlet is discovered to not be adequate or changes to the mains and outlet plan have to be made, then costs could rise with the project.

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