While most of the food production in the United States today is done by agribusinesses utilizing huge warehouses, artificial lighting and genetically modified seed, the traditional farm has by no means gone out of vogue. Anyone with the will to get his or her hands dirty and the knowledge of how to plant, care for and properly harvest crops can find some land and start growing. In farming, like anything else, if you don’t know what you’re doing then your outcome is going to be very far from optimal. This is what to know before starting a farm.
First and foremost, unless you’re working out of a warehouse yourself, the odds are good that your farm of choice will be some distance away from the rest of civilization. Living on farm land is kind of a necessity since you need to be there to watch out for the health of your crops, build fences to keep critters out and do everything else that needs to be done. If you want access to things like TV and the Internet though, your best bet will probably be some sort of satellite connection. Consider this heavily before you commit to any move to any farm.
If being out of the loop doesn’t bother you so much, then that last point won’t be such a big deal for you. However, no farmer can ignore the specific needs of the crops they’ve chosen to grow. Before you even buy the seeds for planting, you must research a few things, like what crops are in demand in your area (cash crops), what kind of special care they need to reach maximum yields, and what sort of fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and other tools you can use to boost your bottom line without killing off your crops.
Different plants have different needs, which means the tools that work for one type of plant may not work for another, or might just kill it outright. Having access to the web would make all this research much easier, so again, we want to stress that first point about having some sort of Internet access at your farm. Once you know what you want to grow, what the specific needs of those plants are and what you can do to meet those needs, then you will finally be ready to actually start growing stuff. The next thing you need to know is the where.
Like with many businesses, location is very important to a farmer. If you must haul your harvest farther to get it to market, then that will cut into your profits more and more for every mile you have to carry your produce. Look for land which is close enough to a major city that you will have easy access to a wide market, but not so close that you have to deal with things like pollution, violence, noise and other woes. Finding the perfect spot which has the balance you want will take some time, and again, some research.
Making money should be the ultimate goal of any farmer, just like with most other businesses. That means you want to give your crops the best possible chance of survival, which in turn means that you need to stay away from heavy sources of smog, like congested city streets loaded with cars, trucks, vans and other vehicles. If you want to raise livestock as well, then you will need to look into crop rotation and how you can grow multiple different crops on different sections of your plot, rotating those crops every few months so you don’t completely deplete the nutrients in the Earth.
Using crop rotation and the four-field rotation system specifically, you can grow a couple of cash crops as well as fodder and feed for your animals, all at the same time. The wheat, turnips, barley and clover system was developed in Great Britain back during the 1500s and it is still used today, but you may want to change up the specific plants you grow based on your needs. Also, remember that some crops simply do not mingle with other crops. One great example of this is tobacco, because it kills practically every other plant it touches.
Because it can be difficult if not impossible to turn a decent profit unless you are running a mega farm that rakes in government subsidies, you have to diversify the production while cutting costs on your farm if you want to come out ahead. This might mean foregoing livestock completely, and instead installing several artificial beehives on your property so you can start producing honey, royal jelly and wax. All of these items command a good price on the produce market, and the bees more or less take care of themselves, all the while fertilizing your crops for you and promising bigger, better yields.