The total return of the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries’ Farmland Index in the first quarter was 2.4%. The gain included a 1% income return and a 1.4% capital appreciation return. The quarter’s capital appreciation was the strongest first quarter since 2006, when farmland appreciated 3.4%.

Stephen Kenney, chairman of the NCREIF Farmland Committee and vice president with the Boston-based Hancock Agricultural Investment Group, says “the farmland asset continues to gain traction as investor interest is driven by the historically stable income returns.”

The NCREIF Farmland Index consists of 471 investment grade farm properties, including 349 annual cropland properties and 122 permanent farmland properties. Institutional investors use the index to help price the risk of farmland investments across the United States.