Maintaining a good relationship with your landlord is critical but not overly difficult if you run your farm like a professional difference, according to Thomas Eatherly, field analyst with K • Coe Isom.

Eatherly recommends employing the following three strategies.

  1. Do the right things and be proactive.
  2. Keep comprehensive records.
  3. Be warm and transparent.

“The first two are what we might call hard business habits,” he says. “You should be doing these things, anyway, but we’ll see how they can be especially helpful in optimizing the relationship with your landlord. The third is a set of soft skills and cultivating a deeper understanding the costs and risk associated with farming.”

What does “do the right things” mean, exactly? Eatherly says it simply means proactively making improvements to the land, whether that means clearing ditches, improving drainage, managing soil quality, or even increasing habitat and revenue potential for hunting and fishing.

As for record-keeping, Eatherly says it’s not possible to have records that are “too good.” Five key areas to track are financial performance, farm management best practices, land resource optimization, people and enterprise-level management.

Not everyone talks to their landlords more than a handful of times each year, Eatherly says. When you do, be transparent about your record-keeping, but it’s also ok to talk about any number of things, such as family news, employee updates or current projects of the farm.

“The bottom line is to do the right thing, document it and be nice to your landlord,” he says.

Read more of Eatherly’s advice on fostering strong relationships with landlords at