Farming is a good and profitable business. But, people who have never been, grownup, or lived in a farm may find it difficult to begin. City-living people can buy land and start a farm, and make it their go-to destination for relaxation and rejuvenation. They can also build a quaint farmhouse and earn a living out of it by inviting travelers over to stay.
However, farming is not an easy business, remember that. To be a farmer, you have to learn to work with the soil and animals and have to be mentally and physically prepared to take risks, work hard, and accept challenges. If you are in the United States, farming could be a great business idea as a review in The Atlantic shows that there will be more bus drivers and fewer farmers in the US by next year.
The world population needs nutrition to survive and require good people to grow food. So, you will be doing a great deal for the community with your noble venture. However, you will also need support and guidance throughout this and our article will help you set the foundation stones and give ideas on various aspects of starting a small farm.
Steps to Start a Small Farm in Budget
Step 1: Draft Your Business Plan
You need to draft a business plan, including a strategic and an operational plan. Farming needs a proper place, climatic condition, soil, finances, and other provisions. You just cannot start farming anywhere as you please. Therefore, you need to draft a plan that would help you guide you through your goals, objectives, market condition, statistics, areas of development, finances, and other operational needs. You may have an existing farm in mind that you can readily purchase or may want to start from scratch. Whatever it is, write down everything in the paper, including the opportunities, threats, pros, and cons.
Step 2: Learn Farming
Before anything else, you will have to study farming and see if the farmer’s work suits you or if you have the required skills to own a farm. Start your learning process by reading books, magazines, or articles on farming. Read and learn as much as possible. Check if you can apply for an internship to learn the basics practically. There are several practices of farming that you would want to learn about. You can also work with different farmers and acquire expensive knowledge.
Step 3: Work on Your Estimates and Financials
You must figure out the cost of operating a farm and look at your financial situation. For instance, farmers would require a yearly investment to maintain the operations. Some are upfront costs and some are yearly. These costs include the cost of the land, equipment cost, funds to sustain until you have livestock or crop to sell, fuel and maintenance cost, crop maintenance cost, irrigation cost, utility bills, and salary. You need to carefully note down all the expenses, even the smallest one, and write their cost against.
Step 4: Study the Land and its Climate
Farming is all about the land, the climate, the water, and the equipment. If all these things perfectly correlate with each other, you will be able to farm successfully. You need to get yourself familiarized with the land and its climate. The land is the foundation and the climate will determine what you can farm and what will affect your operations. You have to study the topographical features of the land as well. Call in an expert to help you with these things. It is crucial to understanding the land. For instance, hilly terrains are perfect for livestock, while plains and rolling grounds are perfect for crop production.
Testing Your Land
You need to test your soil to determine what you can cultivate on them. The soil is incredibly important for crop production, and therefore, you need to spend time and money extensively on testing it. Dig a pit and get some soil samples from different parts of the land, and send it to a lab to test its quality and kind. You may want to know if it is a clay, silt, or sand based soil. Quality of the soil will be checked on the following elements: nutrient details, salinity, pH levels, carbon content, and organic matter. Study the reports obtained from the previous surveying data made on the soil to understand its first horizon, a piece of information important to understanding root biomass’ nutrient content.
Step 5: Study the Vegetation
If you are growing just crops, studying the surrounding vegetation is unimportant. But if you want to raise livestock, surrounding vegetation is as important as the soil. If you want to grow plant species in pastures, the vegetation will determine its success rate. You may want to look at the native plants that are growing wild around the farmland, including the outskirts, near the ditches and in the neighborhood’s field.
Weeds are not plants and you need to make note of their growth separately. Weeds are plants that grow in a crop field or on a pasture of land. You need to know how to tackle different kinds of weeds for healthy farming. Having a look at the neighborhood’s farms will help you plan for future expansion, as in what you could cultivate in the future.
Step 6: Collect Further Information about Area History (Climatic and Cultivation)
Buying land is very difficult, more than inheriting a farm or buying an already cultivated one. Do talk to the owner and collect necessary information, such as what the land was used for previously, how crops were harvested, how fertile the land was, etc. etc.
Have a look at different reports on the different climatic and environmental conditions for the area you will be farming in. You can either find the information online or go directly to a local agricultural office.
You may also want to look up at the climatic history of your area, such as the average precipitation levels and precipitation intervals throughout the year, floods and drought data, frequencies, storm frequency and its type, growing days and frost-free days, seasons length and changes, length of days, rain information, etc.
Step 7: Farm Infrastructure
You will need to build buildings to support your operations, especially if you are buying land to raise livestock. You will also have to make a list of the machinery you would need to purchase for building seed, harvesting, sowing, growing, and caring. You may need to erect certain kind of infrastructure for orchards, creepers, and other types of plants. You will need special buildings for sheltering the cattle, as well as erect fences and bring in feeding facilities to protect the stock. Irrigation should also be managed for a water source. Drainage and electricity must be taken care of as well.
Make sure the farmland is refurbished to suit a habitat of livestock. Only then will your cattle grow healthily and happily.
Step 8: Learn What You Can Sow and Grow
Now it’s time to start taking baby steps. You have to know what grows best and what kind of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides should you use. Learning can be stimulating if your interest lies in farming. Be prepared to be flexible with purchasing and cultivating. Buy good animals. Don’t go cheap here and don’t negotiate quality wise.
Some of the facts you should know to include:
- When selecting breeding animals, one strong male is enough for several females.
- One bull should be enough to service 50 cows, one boar for 20 sows, and one ram for 25 females. Consult an experienced breeder for more information.
- Do not purchase a bull if you are just starting out with 5 or fewer Instead of buying a bull, go with artificial insemination technique or lease a bull for mating. This advice is for all breeding livestock, including sheep, pigs, goats, chicken, horses, ducks, geese, etc.
There are several types of farms that you can grow. The process steps were given for a farm that would convert into a business. However, you can also start a homestead or a hobby farm. Homesteads are farms where the owners live in a farmhouse and set a goal of living self-sufficiently. Homesteaders can also earn a living by running a tiny business.
To get yourself started, you can start a chicken broiler business or an egg business. You should also think about marketing strategies.
Okay, now that we have outlined the things you need to consider starting a mini farm, here are few tips or rules that you should not overlook when starting your own farm.
Tips for Starting Your Own Farmland
Tip 1: Do Not Go Into Any Kind of Debt
Try to avoid debts as much as possible. History shows legendary farmers have abandoned their farms because they simply could not pay their debts. Agriculture is full of uncertainties and intellectual challenges. Therefore, gain experience in farming first and create a reliable cash flow. Opportunities will thereafter become clearer.
Tip 2: It is Okay to Fail
In farming, you will fail 100%. Failure in farming is rather a reliable factor. It’s okay to fail. And unlike other businesses, it is quite important to fail in farming as it will eventually become an invincible tool for success. It will help you learn the loopholes, what works, and what doesn’t.
Tip 3: Identify Your Customers
Before you dig your soil, take time and find out where you are going to sell your products, and who will your customers be. You must also determine how you are going to sell your products. Finding customers is as important as growing food and livestock. You need a proper sales channel to stop goods from languishing.
Tip 4: Grow Something That You Love
Or else, you will soon be doomed out of boredom. If you grow what you love, you will be better at mitigating risks and taking up challenges. However, your decision should also be driven by your finances and the land.
Tip 5: Do Not Set High Goals
Set Reasonable and achievable goals. You do not need to burn out. And burning out is big in farming. Farming is both physical and mental work, and it can be taxing. So, find your pace and set quarterly and annual goals that are achievable. Take measured steps and check with your goals frequently to see whether you are moving upward and forward steadily.
Tip 6: Lighten Up
Running a farm is not like running an IT corporation. You will be working with things that breathe, grow, and reproduce in different ways. They are fun to watch and fun to raise. Farming is a matter of life and death at the same time. You will end up crushing your own love over and over again. So, you need to lighten up and do not take things seriously. Moreover, being emotionally stable is very important when handling deaths.
Tip 7: Grow What the Land Demands
If your farm is meant for raccoons, deer, and rabbits, then you should raise them. The landscape will tell you what to grow and what not to. For instance, ducks need a pond or water to flourish. You cannot keep them in troughs and expect them to grow. So, if you wish to breed ducks, you may want to take a farm that has a water pond.
Tip 8: Don’t Stop Learning
Farming is expensive and extensive. You will come across so many things related to farming on the net, right from new machinery, latest breeding techniques, to automated harvesting systems. So, just do not stop with what you are doing right now. Learn more and explore more stuff. It will make your process streamlined and cost-effective. Also, mother nature has lots in store for us. It’s just us that we don’t discover them. So, try new styles and ways, and test new methods. If you discover a new process, do share it with other farmers.
Last but not least, don’t forget to network. Join local farmer’s event and association. Networking will give you newer and better perspectives in farming.
Don’t forget to share your experience in farming. Let us know what you grow in your farm in comments below.