D Howard Doster 2/10/08



I earned my first check as a Land Grant ďchangeĒ agent fifty-five years ago. No longer an employee, but a farmer, landowner and taxpayer in two states, I have problems that Land Grant faculty used to be able to help me solve. Partly because of lack of funding that is no longer the case.


The Problem/Opportunity

I donít know the right amount of nitrogen to apply to my soils?

I donít know expected soil site-specific yields for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th year corn on my farm?

I may not know the current expected yields on my farm.

I do not know the costs to cause my farm to yield at itís economic potential, or whether/how owner and operator might share these extra costs and expected returns?


I donít know how, when, where, my heirs can learn how to gain/sustain a comparative advantage for managing my farm resources.


Both as an owner and as a tenant, the only reason I rent is to make myself better off than in any other alternative.As an owner, I want a superior tenant.As a tenant, I want a superior owner with superior performing land.Why?Itís more fun to divide a big pie.

I hear 07 rents varied by over $100 on adjacent, similar land, and variations in 08 rents may be more.I donít know how to get rent right or how to easily keep it current.

As an owner, how can I perhaps take more risk and perhaps realize more return in 08 and/or 09?As a tenant, how can I rent more land?


Cause of the problem/Reason for the Opportunity

The Land Grant System is no longer providing enough of the right soil site-specific cropping system research and farm management teaching to help tenants, owners, and their heirs gain and sustain a comparative advantage over farmers elsewhere.


Thatís still a core mission of the Land Grants

Some individual faculty members are still able and willing to do the research & teaching. Often, they get little financial support.

Solutions include just saying, ďAinít it awful!Ē


Alternatively, some persons have proposed that Land Grants charge service fees for continuing education.


The alternative described next is more comprehensive.


Itís based on the principle of comparative advantage.

Do what you do best-your comparative advantage-and trade for the rest.

Some persons are better at doing many things,

Everyone has a comparative advantage for doing some thing.

Is owning or operating farmland your thing?

Hereís your opportunity to make your best, better.


Create and carry out [name it something; Certified Farmers Organization (CFO); Corn Belt Top Farmers (CBTF); Certified Successful Farmers (CSF); Certified Top Producers (CTP); Certified No-Till Farmers (CNTF), whatever].

Whether youíre an owner or tenant, use some of your mind/muscle/relationship skills and your money.

Tenants might pay $100/ month; owners, say, $600 plus $1/acre per year.

Organize your farm group.

Hire a person with excellent facilitating skills to manage your group.

Recognize superior learning achievement by awarding certifications.


Start soil site-specific farmer groups

Create small groups of, say, six owners and/or tenants with the same soils.

Decide on perhaps two soil site-specific cropping systems research projects to be done on your farms and/or on a nearby Land Grant university farm.

Select a Land Grant faculty to help you do what he/she does best.

Ask him/her to help you design, carry out, summarize and analyze your research.

Gift him/her funds directly with no strings.

You own the data; let him/her publish it after, say, the third year of each research project.

Continue gifting funds as long as you are satisfied.

Do what you do best-your comparative advantage-and trade for the rest.




Start management counseling teams

Pick another member couple, perhaps with similar heirs, whom you respect professionally, like personally, and donít compete with for land.

Commit to sharing financial balance sheets the first session as together you take a managerial economics class, with some sessions perhaps over the Internet.

Use the class homework assignments as you counsel each other three-four or more times per year for at least two years, again perhaps sometimes over the Internet.

Perhaps ask Barbara/Howard Doster, retired Purdue University management teachers, to teach the first class.

Use their new Life Cycle Budget to monitor your physical/financial performance and to test alternative uses for your resources, from now on.

Ask perhaps Land Grant faculty of your choice and/or class graduates to teach parts or all of the course/courses you later design and/or select.

Be effective; do right things.Be efficient; do things right.Have fun; enjoy what you do.


Start appraisal teams

Self-select small groups of owners and/or tenants who commit to learn how to appraise your farms in terms of the present and potential productivity, as well as the time and financial cost to bring the land to its maximum economic condition. Each small group may choose to hire an independent consultant or gift to Land Grant faculty for help to learn the appraisal skills and/or to obtain a farm appraisal of this type.

Start where you now are.Use what you now have.Get what you now want most.


Start Now.Hereís how.

Recruit others. Contact Barbara/Howard to help you.

Start a golden rule group.The persons with the gold make the rules.


Call 765 412 1495, email . Read website††