Setting Up a Farm? Here’s What You Need to Know
A lot of people think that farming is on its way out. That it’s some antiquated profession that is sure to be replaced by some other method of food production sooner or later. Of course, you have to wonder where these people think a lot of their food comes from! Just because an industry doesn’t involve sitting at a desk and working at a computer, it doesn’t mean that it’s a dying industry.
Agriculture remains an essential part of our economy and culture. Indeed, there are many farms out there that have a very modern feel. And some don’t only give to society by providing us with food. Look at a place like the Soul Fire Farm, which puts focus on helping people of color or reformed criminals find better jobs in the food industry. Urban farming has also become a big thing in many cities. Community gardens and agricultural tower blocks are being used to bring the farming of food directly to the heart of big cities.
So if you have hopes of setting up a farm, you’re not doomed to squalor or failure the way some people may make out. If it’s what you want to do, then there is still plenty of success to be found in it. There are also a lot of ways in which you can get any assistance you may need.
Have a look through this quick guide – we hope it inspires you further!
Getting a government grant
A lot of people confuse grants with loans. Grants are different in that you don’t actually have to pay them back! The government knows that farming needs strong support in order to keep a native food supply going. It also knows that farming requires a lot of money in the initial steps. Land and labor don’t come cheap, after all, and you’re going to need plenty of it!
The problem is that the grant process is very competitive. Thankfully, there are several types of grants that are tailored to meet specific needs. For example, if you don’t have a lot of hands-on experience with farming, you can get grants that help pay for the right training programs. The government also take into account the land you’re going to be using. If the land is good for growing a specific food speciality, then you may be given a grant to support the farming of that specific crop.
This is why, before applying for a grant, you need at least two things. The first is a deep knowledge of the area in which you’ll be setting up the farm. You need to know the soil can do as well as what the state of the local economy is. You will also need a comprehensive business plan. Projections of income and plans for cash management are essential when you want to pitch yourself to a government grantor.
One of the biggest concerns surrounding agriculture is the environment. The industry hasn’t exactly been famous for being very environmentally-friendly! This has created the impression that any new farm must, necessarily, be very harmful to the planet. This feeling is compounded when you think about all the heavy machinery you’re going to need. But it’s not true that you can’t run a farm that can go green.
Modern farming machinery is more eco-friendly without being mechanically weaker than their predecessors. Alongside the mechanical concerns, you have to consider the quality of your water and the soil. Pest control is also a major concern, due to the environmentally harmful chemicals in pesticides. Thankfully, there’s a bunch of reading material you can find on running a farm that’s as green as possible.
The United States Department of Agriculture is also helping farmers maintain organic methods. This helps you keep animals healthy, protect natural resources and avoid using genetically-modified materials.
Getting the heavy machinery
Farming has changed a lot since what could be considered its “peak” days. But whereas the technology we’re using in other areas seems to have gotten smaller, that hasn’t been the case for farming. The machinery we have to use on the land hasn’t changed much when it comes to size. They’re still very big – and expensive.
All the equipment you’ve been picturing in your head is probably still very much needed on a farm. The tractors, of course, are essential. Combines, as well as other seeding and planting equipment, will probably be required. You’ll also probably be moving heavy loads that can’t always be placed on a tractor. So you’ll have to deal with other transportative equipment!
There are also several kinds of machinery out there that you may not need but will improve efficiency. Unfortunately, government grants don’t always cover the acquiring of all the machinery you need. If you can’t get the funds you need from the government or from your income, you can look into farm machinery finance.
New technological advances in agriculture
As highlighted earlier in this article, there’s much about farming that hasn’t changed much. But it would be wrong to suggest that there have been no technological advances at all. On the contrary: many farms are using very “2016” technology to improve efficiency and production.
Consider the fact that farm workers have to check up on large amounts of land. Back in the day, if you wanted to check your land properly, you’d have to explore it thoroughly and manually. These days, however, farmers can use drones to survey the land in detail from the sky. You can have the images streamed to your computer, allowing you to survey the land without having to leave your seat.
There are also several mobile apps that have been designed to help farmers. It may seem strange that farming would find anything useful in mobile apps. But agriculture is a business, and what business couldn’t be aided with some cool apps? Farming, for example, is being aided by an app that can estimate incoming precipitation and growing degree units. (All that, of course, will make more sense to you if you’re in agriculture!)