Prepare a Legacy Report to preserve conservation ethics, farm management

by Sara Berges,
Allamakee SWCD

As a farmland owner, what are your long-term goals for your farm and farmland, even when you are gone? Have you discussed these goals with your family? Have you considered writing down the history of your farm, your conservation efforts and ethic, and your suggestions for future farm management?
One Allamakee SWCD commissioner worked with the Lease Project Coordinator at the Allamakee SWCD to generate a Legacy Report that included this information. This commissioner had come up with the idea because he wanted to write down information about how he would want his ground to be managed in case something should happen to him.  You can write your own Legacy Report, complete with maps and a narrative to pass along to your family.  
Information about how to write a Legacy Report can be found at The narrative can be as brief or as detailed as you want it to be. Some ideas for topics to include are a history of farmland ownership, past farming practices, a history of conservation practice installation including maintenance dates for practices that received federal or state cost-share funds, current and suggested land-use including crop rotations, and suggestions for future management. You can also attach a copy of your NRCS conservation plan with the understanding that farming practices are likely to change over time. Maps from the Iowa Geographic Map Server at ISU can show the progression of conservation on the land through aerial photography starting with the 1930s photos up to present day. Soil information can be obtained from the Web Soil Survey.
The Legacy Report could also include suggestions regarding leasing the land in the future, if that is something your family might consider.  If you write a report (letter/record/or whatever else you’d want to call it), make sure you discuss it with your family/heirs. These reports would not be legally binding documents, but help pass along your goals for the land and could help generate important discussions about land management and land transition.