Tillable alters the landscape of farmland rental

A new web platform, Tillable, is helping bring transparency to the farmland rental market.

Tillable is designed to ameliorate an issue co-founder and CEO Corbett Kull saw in the dynamic of farmland rental: landowners are often unsure how to get fair market value for the rent of their land, and growers, looking for new land to farm, often have no efficient means of finding it other than hearing of it through the grapevine.

Kull will present on Tillable at 1 Million Cups Fargo on November 14.

Tillable addresses these issues by providing landowners and growers an easy-to-use online market platform where landowners can post their rentable land and solicit rent offers, and growers can look for land to farm and make offers on it.

Kull described Tillable’s work as using a four-step process: First, landowners create a farm listing profile of their farm and select their farmland on a map. Second, there is a landowner offer period, in which growers make offers to rent the farm through a blind offer process. The landowners engage with growers and decide whose offer is best to go with, and a lease is signed electronically. Third, rent is paid electronically through Tillable. Finally, Tillable helps landowners collect data to have complete records around their farm during growing season. Tillable also sends a report to farmers at the end of the year.

On the other side of the transaction, there are growers on the lookout for land to farm, who often still rely on who they know to hear about land through the proverbial grapevine.

The idea for Tillable germinated after Kull helped a friend figure out what to do with a farm they’d inherited from their grandmother.

“I’m not sure I can manage this farm, and I don’t think I’m getting fair market value in rent for this land,” Kull’s friend said.

Kull helped this friend find information about what reasonable rent prices would be for their farm, which ultimately resulted in them negotiating a better rent price for their land.

“Now I’m getting $1,150 an acre in rent… I’m pretty sure my grandmother was getting taken advantage of for years,” Kull’s friend said, per Kull.

For growers, Tillable’s benefits include greater access to information on rentable farmland. Growers receive notifications from Tillable when new farms enter the market in their area.

“They can do a better job of marketing their farming capabilities,” Kull said.

Prior to Tillable, Kull founded 640 Labs, a data collection platform also geared toward farming, which was eventually acquired by The Climate Corporation.

“I’ve been in the ag tech industry for about six to seven years,” Kull said.

Kull compared Tillable to marketplace platforms like Zillow or Airbnb, but with an agriculture-specific spin.

“We’ve not really seen a lot of marketplaces to date take hold in agriculture,” Kull said, “and it seems like the time is right.”

One of the challenges of launching the platform lies in the diversity of its target audience. In landowners, for example, Kull noted there are many widows, children who’ve been left a farm but don’t live on it, and even a growing number of institutions that own farmland.

“We’re still trying to figure out what are all the problems that landowners are facing and what of those problems are solvable by us,” Kull said.

Right now, Tillable is focused on the Midwest and on corn, soybean, and wheat farming. They intend future expansion in to the rest of the U.S. and into other crops.

For more information on Tillable, visit tillable.com. 1 Million Cups Fargo takes place each Wednesday from 9:15-10:15 a.m. at The Stage at Island Park.