Making it through a long winter

Making it through a long winter

Tips for setting up a small farm

by Vicki Harvey

Setting up your own small farm can be a very exciting experience. However, it can also be quite a daunting one. If you're thinking about creating this type of business, the following tips may help you with this process.

Take care when buying farmland

The type of farmland you buy will play a significant role in how well your business does in the future. If you intend to grow crops, it's crucial to choose a plot with the right kind of soil; ideally, it should be nutrient-rich and have excellent drainage. It's a good idea to have the soil tested; this test will not only tell you exactly what kind of soil the plot has, but will also provide you with a detailed account of its current nutrient levels.

Loam (a combination of clay, silt and sand) is widely considered to be the best soil type for growing vegetables, as its density levels allow water and air to easily reach and penetrate the roots of a plant. Plots made up of sandy soil should be avoided, as they do not retain water very well. Clay soils, whilst not quite as easy to work with as loam, usually have very high nutrient levels and are quite alkaline, meaning that they don't need to be limed in order to reduce their acidity levels.

In addition to selecting a plot with the right kind of soil, you should also inquire about the land's existing infrastructure. Depending on whether the plot was used for livestock or crops, it may already have troughs, dams, fencing, feeders, sheds and gates. It's important that this infrastructure is suitable for your future farming plans. If it isn't, you may have to have it demolished and replaced or repaired, which will of course, increase your business expenditures.

Invest in the right equipment

No matter how small your new farming business is, you will almost certainly need to purchase some agricultural equipment in order to get it up and running. A compact tractor is perhaps one of the most valuable investments you can make. This is a highly versatile piece of machinery, which can be used for a multitude of tasks, provided you buy a few attachments. It can, for example, help you to set up fencing posts, bale hay, prepare plants and dig foundations. If you intend to raise livestock, you may also need to buy a livestock trailer and a manure spreader; the latter can be used to disperse manure over the pastures to help keep contaminated runoff to a minimum and increase the soil's fertility.

You should also consider investing in a high-quality ride-on lawnmower, as fields need to be cut after the animals who have been grazing on them are moved to another area. This activity levels out any unevenness in the grass caused by grazing, which in turn helps to encourage faster grass growth. Regular mowing can also reduce the presence of weeds. It's important to choose a heavy-duty model which will be robust enough to cope with the demands you'll be placing on it. Husqvarna lawn mowers are a good option for small farmers; they are known to be exceptionally durable, making them an excellent choice for those intending to perform high-intensity pasture maintenance.  


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Making it through a long winter

It's always tricky dealing with the swings of the weather when you are a farmer. You can suffer if there is too much rain, not enough rain or even rain at the wrong time of the year. It can make it really challenging to have enough feed for livestock or to be able to harvest a crop later in the year if you are a crop farmer. Often there are some relatively simple things you can do to manage these issues, including buying supplemental feeds or running drainage ditches. This blog is about managing all of the events that can happen over a long winter as a farmer or farm manager.

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