Monday, August 31, 2015

Rental Agreements

Today marks the end of most rental agreements.  What comes next?  Renew at the same rate?  Increase?  Certainly not.  Decrease?  Maybe.  Wait until you see what the crop brings?  Probably.

Cash Lease

This is the most popular option for farm rental agreements.  In Iowa especially, tenants and landlords have a good connection and work together to determine the rate for the following year.  Having one fixed number helps both the tenant and landlord make plans for the following year.  This also elevates more calculations when you are harvesting.  It is important when negotiating new rental rates to understand your other production costs and where your breakeven prices sits.  There are many tools that are able to assist you in calculating your breakeven point.  The Iowa State Extension Office provides lots of great calculators you can access here.

Flex Lease

This the newest wave in agreements.  This essentially replaces the crop share program.  There are two methods commonly found.  The first is when rental rates are completely dependent on crop value or revenue.  This is usually a percentage.  In a decreasing economy, this helps the renter and hurts the landlord.  If yields and prices are good, this is an advantage to the landlord and doesn't hurt the renter any more.

The second method is establishing a base rental rate and a bonus if yields and prices are good.  This protects the landlord to cover land ownership costs, but the renter may lose out if prices fall dramatically.  This also results in profit sharing beyond the base rate at an agreed upon rate.  This way, both the renter and landlord have a vested interest in how well the crop does.  Usually the base chosen for this method is lower than the standard rate so the landlord shares risk.

Examples of both of these methods are from Iowa State Extension Office at this link.


Right now, folks with good looking crops are worrying about where it is going.  Folks with flooding or moisture containment problems are worrying about enough yields to breakeven.  As of this morning corn prices were $3.40, this is below most production costs for farmers.  It is important that both the renter and landlord calculate costs and revenues the same way.  Be sure to have this conversation ahead of time in your agreement so there are no surprises at harvest.

Waiting until harvest to renew leases is becoming a more popular choice, but risky.  You are creating an opportunity for another renter to enter negotiations in a very competitive environment.  You need to have your business goals, costs, and calculations in line when heading into 2016 rental agreements.  Agreement templates can be found on the Iowa State Extension website for your use.

Here's to a great #Harvest15, agreeable rental terms, and the ability to invest in your farm.

Do you have a farm rent story to share?  We'd love to hear it!  Comment below or find us on Twitter and Facebook.    
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dakotafest Story


There was a storm the 1st day.  Dakotafest was closed for the safety of the attendees and exhibitors.  We were able to enter the grounds later in the day to check on the site.  We, like many exhibitors, had our canopies destroyed.  We luckily found one of the last ones and got all set up again and ready to go.  The second two days were gorgeous.

Meeting Top-Spread Owners

We got to meet a lot of great folks and talk with people about their processing needs.  We also had the chance to meet Top-Spread owners in person and hear about their experiences.  This was our favorite part.  We talk with lots of folks on the phone, but don't get to see them in person.  We also enjoy learning about what new things they are doing.


During Dakotafest, we had a sign up to win a toolbox full of tools.  We drew Mike from Moorland, Iowa as the lucky winner.  This is exciting to us because he is one of the people that ordered his own Top-Spread!  Congrats to Mike and thanks to all that entered.  Folks that ordered their own Top-Spread at the show also received a free 3/4" wrench.

Our Neighbors

We had Morris Equipment Bobcat Dealers of Mitchell as our neighbors and they were great!  They helped us unload the spreaders and load up our customers picking theirs up from the show.  Tim over at Hoop Beef Systems was also a huge help.  Top-Spread works great with their hoop building set up to bed with and not have debris flying at your cover.  He made sure people found their way back to our location.

Overall, Dakotafest was a success thanks to all who came out and helped us!  We are glad we participated and met so many great folks.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Customized For You

You have many choices to customize your Top-Spread for best use in your operation.  We have four different models to choose from based on your material size and skid loader model.  You can view different views of side by side comparisons on our Facebook Page.

We have three common colors to choose from: Industrial Yellow, Blue, or Gray.  These match most skid loaders.  You can also choose any color you want (to match sports teams, JD green, equipment orange, anything) with an additional fee.


There are a few attachments Top-Notch Machine produces for different uses.  Folks that use wood shavings like our screens.  We put a large screen on the skid side and smaller screens on the tines that are all removable.  This essentially makes a large bucket to scoop up 4x as many shavings as with a regular loader bucket.  We have more photos of these on our Facebook Page as well.

We understand everyone uses different equipment to work best with their set up.  We make many adaptations for you to be able to work with what you already use.  Planning to upgrade your skid loader in the near future?  We have high flow hydraulic tips for you to switch out to have better performance.  Planning on using a telehandler?  We make adapters for your telehandler to use skid steer plates.  We can also provide extra cords if you are planning on using several machines.

For folks with calf huts, we have the solution for you.  We make a "chute" for your deflector door that allows you to blow a pile of bedding straight into your calf hut.

Visit our Models Page on the website for more information about Top-Spread options.

Have any questions about the possibilities with Top-Spread?  Connect with us on Social Media or Contact us today!    
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Monday, August 10, 2015

You're Invited!

We are excited for so many opportunities to meet folks and learn about their processing needs.  There are four great ways for us to meet personally with folks.

Iowa State Fair

Stop by and chat with Matt or John Schneider from Schneider Farms in the Friedman Farm Supply booth just outside the Varied Industries Building August 13th-23rd in Des Moines, Iowa.  They will have a Top-Spread on location as well as videos and information!  Tell them you heard about them on this blog.


This is a large farm show that is held annually with over 30,000 visitors.  This will take place August 18th-20th on Schlaffman Farm in Mitchell, South Dakota.  This is our first time attending this show, not to mention being an exhibitor!  We have been working diligently to prepare handouts, signage, giveaways, promotions, etc. while keeping costs low to provide affordable equipment for you.

The show also provides us with an opportunity to deliver folks their Top-Spread for pick up after the show at a discounted price.  We only have one of these spots remaining if you would like to be included.  We are looking forward to meeting folks that we have had phone conversations with in person and learning about their fall plans.

We will have two promotions at the show: the first is a giveaway.  We have a toolbox full of lifetime warranty tools valued at over $200 for one lucky winner.  The second is our fall order program.  Sign up when you want your Top-Spread delivered, provide a small down payment, and receive a gift with purchase!  So stop by and see us at our booth #1034 on the north side right next to the Bobcat dealers.

2015 Iowa Roadside Vegetation Management Conference

We are invited to participate in this conference made up of Iowa County representatives, DOT personnel, utility folks, and more.  It will take place in Iowa City and we even have the chance to demo Top-Spread with the help of one of our dealers, Schneider Farms.

Personal Demonstrations at the Shop

This is our personal favorite.  We invite anyone to come see Top-Spread in action.  We just need a heads up so we are sure to have a unit, skid steer, and bale handy.  We enjoy being able to have folks touch and see Top-Spread in person and we are able to provide personalized attention to you.

Long Post today, so you know about all of our upcoming events!  Follow us on Twitter for the updates on event happenings.

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We'd love to chat more about these ways to meet on here, social media, email or by phone!

Monday, August 3, 2015


We've all heard the adage, "if we keep doing what we've always done, we are going to get what we've always got."

This is more than a phrase in passing for us.  We believe that not only will you see a lack of improvement; you will actually see a decrease in whatever you are tracking.

Same ads running all year?  People will stop paying attention.

Same production methods?  Production will slow down.  These are inevitable.

 You have to change to stay relevant.  The alternative is obsolescence.

Sometimes this is easy.  Move a tool closer to where you use it.  Sometimes this is difficult.  These are usually changes made in working toward larger goals: adjusting job descriptions to better allocate skills, moving a production location to prepare for larger rearrangement and safer production.  Purchasing a new piece of equipment that is completely different from what you have always done.  These large scale changes are necessary to stay competitive, make tasks easier, and continually improve.

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