Any path we choose in life begins one step at a time. As we progress along the path, the steps we take merge, and we repeat those that take us forward while avoiding those that set us back.
If you’re getting started in farming and unsure of what steps may be helpful in your chosen venture, here are 50 tips that every new farmer should know to help you along the way.
1. Hobby Farms Offer a Stress-less Approach
Hobby farms are great because they allow you to hone your farming skills on a micro level. Without the financial responsibility of a large-scale operation, you’re free to concentrate on expanding your farming experience instead of worrying about how to turn it into your main source of income. Make it small and have fun.
2. Listen and Learn from Experience
Seek the counsel of experienced farmers and hear what worked for them. Try and learn some mistakes ahead of time so that you can avoid them or gain insight into what you can expect from farming.
3. Choose Your Crops
If you’re planning to plant, harvest, and potentially sell a particular crop, which one is right for you? The type of land you’re farming, the climate, market demand, and sale potential of the crop, as well as your available budget, are all factors that should be taken into account.
4. Land Preparation
What’s the state of your land before planting? Is there any evidence of disease from previously cultivated crops, and do you need to take measures to prepare the land for a new crop?
5. Fertilize First
What fertilization steps do you require to bring the land back to its normal state of fertility prior to a new crop planting? This will vary according to what the previous crops were and the types of fertilizers used.
6. Irrigation Design
Efficient irrigation practices rely on effective field design. Research how best to lay out and design your fields in order to irrigate effectively.
7. Fields Need Leveling
Your fields will need to be leveled before crop planting, as this helps with the even distribution of water during irrigation. Leveling prevents the top nutrient-rich soil from being carried away by strong winds or washed away by rain.
8. Seed Selection
When selecting and arranging the purchase of seeds for your chosen crop, you’ll need to consider their suitability to your land and climate. How much water they’ll require for growth is another important aspect.
9. See Sowing Methods
What are the optimal weather conditions you’d like at sowing time? What method of sowing seeds, including seed sowing depth, will you be using? You should think and learn more about broadcasting, dribbling, drilling, seed dropping behind the plow, and row planting.
10. Irrigation Times and Levels
How much water you give to plants and at what intervals is a crucial aspect of their growth. You’ll need to investigate critical irrigation times for your particular crops and conditions.
11. Planting For Optimal Crop Growth
It’s possible to plant too many seeds in any given area. Often farmers may need to reduce the number of plants per given area in order to encourage optimum growth.
12. Fertilization During Growth
Fertilization should occur not just prior to planting to prepare the land but also at different stages of the growth process. The frequency with which you fertilize will depend on your crops, climate, fertilization products, and methods.
13. Anticipate Attacks
Pest and virus attacks can occur at any stage of crop planting. You’ll need to get familiar with the symptoms of an attack and arm yourself with both preventive measures and actions that can be taken in the event of an attack, such as pesticide use.
14. If Not for Crops, Then What?
An important aspect of starting a farm is to consider why you want to do it. Are you farming for profit, as a hobby, for animal welfare purposes, or as a contribution to stewarding the earth?
15. Become a Student of Farming
Farming school? Well yes! The study is imperative if you’re starting out as a farmer and do not have the legacy of a farming family to teach you. The farming study can be self-directed, undertaken as an apprenticeship, or done at an institution.
16. Safety is Always an Issue
Farming can require the use of heavy machinery and other implements that can be hazardous; meanwhile, animals can be unpredictable in their behavior. Familiarizing yourself with safety measures for all aspects of farming life is essential.
17. Begin Where you Know
If you’re an avid gardener with years of experience tending to plants, you may be wise to begin farming crops rather than animals as you’ll find you’ve already got a lot of the necessary skills. Building on what you already know is always a strong initiator of success.
18. Read as Part of Your Self-Study
Books written by farmers are great ways to get first-hand accounts of how farming works. There are books written by all sorts of farmers coming to the practice from many different angles.
19. Associate in the Right Circles
There are established associations for all types of farming across the nation and worldwide. Join a farming federation for support and a voice.
20. Market Research
If you’re planning on turning a profit, you’ll want to know which crops and livestock are succeeding in what areas and their conditions for doing so. Market research is an essential part of commercial farming.
21. Access Local Services
Extension services are available to provide resources on various aspects of small farming and gardening. For example, the Oregon State University Extension has a Small Farms portal that gives information on topics such as crops, grains, soil, and livestock.
22. Department of Agriculture
Your local state department of agriculture should be able to provide you with lots of relevant information on farming in your area.
Not only that, they’ll keep you up to date with what licenses you may need to apply for and advise you on any local regulations concerning food safety, pesticides, market access, and more.
23. Animal Choices
If you’re going to farm animals, your choice will likely depend much on whether you’re planning on being a hobby farmer or a commercially oriented operation. Different animals require varying degrees of roaming space, feed, and attention.
24. The Chicken Before the Egg
Chickens are a great choice for first-time farmers. They can be multipurpose, providing eggs, meat, and fertilizer. They also take up comparatively less space, so they’re a good option for small-scale farms.
25. If Not Chickens then Start Small
The best animal choices for new farmers are the small ones! Think chickens, ducks, turkeys, or rabbits if you’re interested in raising livestock.
26. Cattle Call
They may require more a lot more space to graze, but cattle are a surprisingly low-maintenance option if you’re considering farming on a larger scale.
27. Goats on the Rise
Consumption of goat meat is steadily increasing in many areas making these animals a wise farming choice. They can be farmed for both meat and milk.
28. Machines Over Man
Whatever type of farm you’re looking to establish, you’ll need some sort of machinery to help you out. The size and type of farm machinery you acquire will vary widely according to your farming specifications.
29. Tractor Talk
No matter what sort of farm you’re intending on, it’s likely that you’ll need a tractor as an essential piece of farming equipment. Tractors are designed to have all sorts of different farming implements attached to them.
The size, function, and price of tractors vary extensively and will be determined by your needs.
30. Multitask Your Machines
Especially when you’re just starting out, it may not be necessary to have every piece of machinery and gadget on the market. Look at ways in which one machine can multitask to perform multiple duties.
31. Shop Second-hand
Shopping for quality used farm machinery and parts not only saves you money but is also a great environmental choice.
32. Seek Sustainability
There’s an increasing movement among farming communities to choose farming methods, products, and practices, that align with eco-friendliness.
33. Get Your Machinery Specs in Order
There’s a lot to learn about the individual specs of each piece of farming machinery, and it will make ordering spare parts a much easier job.
34. Best in Show
Hit the farm shows to learn about farming techniques, see the latest machinery in action, network, and get inspired.
35. Make Friends with Farmers
Mingle amongst your local farming community and make some friends to learn from, support, and cheer with.
36. Green your Pesticide and Product List
Where possible, choose eco-friendly products that are better for the planet and for your health.
37. Respect the Land
Forge a relationship with the land based on respect. Farmers are often called stewards of the land, and it should be in your best interest if you want to be a farmer to protect the land as at the end of the day, you rely on it.
38. Hire Experienced Workers
Experienced workers can help you have a great time, especially if you are new to farming. It would help if you had strong hands and knowledge to help you grow your farm faster and in a safer way.
39. Undertake Regular Self-Audits
Regular self-audits help you detect possible risks and show you what you or your staff are doing correctly and where you need improvement. During and after audits, analyze and share results and train yourself and your staff. Always seek to get better at what you do.
40. Prioritize Your Physical and Emotional Health
Farming is not easy work. It requires concentration, strength, and positive thoughts. Prepare yourself for work mentally and physically. Think about safety at work, lift carefully, eat well, think of ergonomic solutions at the workplace, and know your limitations.
41. Include the Family in your Farm Tasks
Get your family familiar with your farm and help them understand and learn its beauty of it. It will bring support when you need it the most.
42. Hunt out local Farmer’s Markets to Sell At
First, of course, you need to decide what to sell, but when you have that sorted out, find the local markets where you will get to know people, their products, and the way how to introduce yourself and bring your products to people in your community.
43. Employ a Great Sheepdog
Sheepdogs are hard workers and great companions. They will guard your livestock, and the best part is you will make a friend for life.
44. Read Farming Blogs
Farming Blogs will help you understand all positives and negatives of your daily tasks. It’s a place where you can find tons of essential farming information and feel like you are not alone in this.
45. Eat What You Grow
The best part after hard work at the farm is to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You now have access to healthy and affordable food that you’ve grown. Also, all the work will keep you active, fill you up with vitamin D, and it will save you money.
46. Perform Regular Rain Dances!
Why not? If it doesn’t bring rain during the dry season, at least it will bring you joy and more positive thoughts ahead and after your work. Also, it keeps you fit.
47. Think about Water Supply
Water is essential for growing fresh produce and sustaining livestock, which means you need access to a nearby water supply with proper drainage. It would help if you thought about the water filtration system and how to use water more efficiently.
48. When something breaks, take the time to fix it and fix it right
Farming machinery isn’t cheap, and not fixing it correctly might cost you even more money in the long run as it will affect time management and disrupt your daily operations, directly affecting your product.
49. Be flexible and open to new activities
It’s never boring on the farm. There are always new things to do, and you must be willing to perform any task that needs to get done on a working farm. Farming brings many challenges, and you should be open to all that it takes to get the job done.
50. Finally, Prepare to Fail
Every new venture will have both its successes and failures. An important aspect of farming is developing flexibility and resilience to be able to cope with any setbacks you encounter along the way. It’s important to know that farming is not a get-rich-quick deal.
Farming can be a rewarding hobby, an exciting career, or anything in between. Take steps towards your future farming self today with these tips planted in your fertile mind.