Land Tenure and Conservation in Agriculture

Project Background

Agricultural land management decisions are situated within a complex and interconnected system, influenced by a suite of social and economic factors, many of which are difficult to control. Landowners can, but often don’t, take it upon themselves to drive stewardship of their land. Funded by the Walton Family Foundation, the Delta Institute has focused on land ownership and tenure as levers to increase conservation and rebuild soil health in the Midwest, where over 50 percent of the agricultural land is leased. 


Project Description

In 2019, Delta Institute released the report, Land Tenure and Conservation in Agriculture: Creating Incentives for Landowners. This report explores the network of stakeholders, policies, and institutions through which soil health can be linked to the value of the land and serve as an incentive to change management of that land. Although soil health and management practices are not currently explicitly integrated into the land valuation system, we identify opportunities where such linkages can be created and utilized to rebuild soil health. 

If you are an individual landowner interested in conservation on your rented farmland, Land Stewardship Project’s Conservation Lease Toolkit has resources for you, including lease examples, frequently asked legal questions, and information on soil health and practices.

The additional resources below also contain helpful information about the project and the tools that have been developed by the project team. If you have any questions about the project or the content on this page, contact Olga Lyandres, Ph.D., at

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