The rise in local land prices has been fueled mainly by a worldwide agricultural commodity boom that has driven food prices up by more than 100 percent since 2003, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
"More people need to get into farming; otherwise, we won't have any food," said commodity investor Jim Rogers, who launched the international Quantum Fund with George Soros in the early 1970s and went on to create the Rogers International Commodities Index, which tracks the performance of numerous commodities in global markets, ranging from agriculture to metals and energy products.
Rogers and Notaro belong to an increasingly active community of farmland investors hoping to profit from the world's growing need for nourishment. "I'm still wildly optimistic about the future of agriculture worldwide," said Rogers, who has served as an advisor and as a director to companies that hold farmland in Australia, Brazil and North America.
The outlines of the investing case for farmland are well known at this point. The global population is expected to peak at slightly more than 9 billion by 2050, up from 7 billion today. On a per capita basis, the FAO projects that the amount of arable land available will decline steadily over the next few decades, from 0.218 hectares per person today to 0.181 hectares per person in 2050.
On the demand side, much of the growth in population and food consumption will occur in the developing world. As income levels rise in developing countries, consumers there are consuming more meat. Livestock production consumes massive quantities of grain and water, spurring farmers to boost both crop yields and land under cultivation.
Soaring demand for biofuels is another significant demand factor. In the U.S., for example, ethanol production accounts for 23 percent of total corn utilization, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.
Average U.S. corn prices tripled between 2005 and 2012, from $2 a bushel in 2005 and 2006 to $6.22 a bushel in 2011 and 2012. The price surge was partly caused by a rising demand for ethanol, along with other factors, including flooding and drought, higher prices for inputs like fuel and fertilizer, rising demand for meat, and upward movement in commodity markets.
In turn, rising agricultural commodity prices have driven a 128 percent rise in average Midwest farmland values over the past decade, from $1,270 an acre in 2003 to $2,900 an acre in 2013, according to USDA figures.
(Read more: America in 25 years: Here's what to expect)