Farming and agriculture have played a considerable role in the development and evolution of human societies and will continue to shape our future. It has evolved significantly from small-scale farming to feed a household to corporate and large-scale farming using heavy machinery and technology.
As the world’s population continues to grow, we will need to scale up farming to meet the needs of the people. It is estimated that we will need to increase food production by more than 75 percent to feed the world by 2050. So, it is up to farmers to increase the yields of their farms using technology and other tools like farm software and precision agriculture without harming the environment.
However, it is also essential for farmers, especially small farm owners, to know the types of crops and livestock in demand to profit in this competitive and harsh market. If not, they will run out of business or be engulfed by large corporate conglomerates.
This, in turn, may harm the local economy and reduce the quality of food that reaches the consumers. So, in this article, we will talk about the top profitable business ideas and tips to invest in when thinking of starting a farm.
What Is a Small Farm Business?
Many people use the terms “family farm” and “small farm” interchangeably. However, they are not synonyms. A family farm can also refer to a large corporate farm business owned by one family. So, a small farm refers to a farm business that makes less than $250,000 yearly.
These types of farms account for over 90 percent of the total number in the United States. This definition is specific for the U.S and would differ from country to country. Therefore, you need to check your country’s laws for detailed information on how farms are categorized.
Why Do You Want to Start a Small Farm Business?
Like every other business, starting a farm takes lots of dedication and resources. So before making any type of investment on the farm, you need to know why you are starting the farm.
There are multiple reasons, but make sure you have the drive to pull through even when things get tough. Also, it will push you to find answers to some significant challenges people encounter as newbies in this industry.
Where to Start?
As a newbie, you may not know what to expect or how to ensure that your farm is successful. That is why you should get some real-world experience. To do this, you can volunteer to work on a large commercial farm to see how things are done. Here, you will gain firsthand experience from veterans and understand the different farm processes.
Besides working under a veteran, you also have a lot of learning to do. Coupled with knowledge gained from working in the fields, it would be helpful to read about farming, attend networking events, and talk to other farms who can share their experiences. From here on, you will need to do the following:
Step 1: Understand Your Niche
It is never a good idea to jump headfirst into any business adventure, even farming. First, you will need to understand precisely what you want to grow on the farm. Study the demand and supply of crops and livestock before making that decision.
You do not want to start growing a crop only to discover no demand. This means that the farm had failed before it even began. So, before you start, research the market. Understanding your potential customers and how the products will reach them is essential.
Step 2: Find a Suitable Land for Agriculture
Without land, there can be no farms or agriculture in general. However, soil quality is also a significant factor when choosing where to start your farm. Once you have found a good place, you can purchase or lease it, depending on your budget. Buying the land gives you complete control over it.
However, this option comes with serious financial risks. That is why the more popular choice among newbie farmers is leasing.
A suitable land to start your farm should be near local markets, bodies of water, electricity, infrastructure and should have fertile soil.
Step 3: Getting Financial Resources
Unless you have large sums of cash in the bank or inherited the farm, you will need funding to make your dream a reality. Carefully analyze all your funding options to see which ones will be the most beneficial. It is not recommended to start with taking loans from banks as you may end up paying huge interest rates if you don’t pay in time.
Always avoid expensive equipment from the start. Start small and scale up when necessary. This is because every bit of resource you have now is crucial for the farm’s success. You don’t need to waste it on things that are not important.
Step 4: Craft a Business Plan
Creating a detailed business plan will help you reach your goals and ensure that the farm runs effectively. It shows you the essential tools necessary for the farm and required resources. Also, if you seek financial assistance from any farmers union, it will be a great item to present to them to secure the loan.
Step 5: Market and Sell Your Products
There are lots of different ways to sell the products from your farm. Some people set up a stand in the farmers’ local market to sell their products directly. Another way is by selling the crops through a Community Support Agriculture group. Here, patrons buy shares of your yield in exchange for constant supply when the crops or livestock are ready.
You could also sell them through a local growers’ cooperative by teaming up with other farmers to sell your products.
Now that we have seen what it takes to start a farm. Let’s talk about some profitable farming business ideas.
Profitable Farming Business Ideas
Everyone wants to live life in a beautiful environment, but there are insufficient trees and plants due to growing urbanization. All of this has brought us far away from nature. That is why it will be a profitable business to set up a small nursery that can supply trees to the community. Anyone with adequate knowledge of plants and their management can set up a nursery.
Mushrooms are a delicacy in almost every part of the world and sometimes even used in herbal medicine. They are convenient to grow and do not need much care or management. Also, mushrooms have a short growth cycle, so that you will get lots of harvests yearly. That is why starting a mushroom farm maybe your breakthrough in agriculture.
Herbs and vegetables grow quickly, and you get yield within a short time interval, giving you a faster turnover. Obviously, you will encounter issues with pests and insects, but you can use shelter or greenhouse technology. This will help you grow herbs all around the year. You can grow local herbs and vegetables around the year with rain shelters by controlling temperature.
Microgreens are always in demand because they contain lots of nutrients. These are very young plants before they become vegetables or herbs. They also have a short growth time, usually within weeks.
This is the process of maintaining bee colonies or hives to harvest honey and other commercial products. Maintaining a beehive does not require a massive amount of money or labor. You do not even need fertile land to do so. It is good to have been on farms with other crops because bees act as a natural way of pollination. The honey collected from bees is used worldwide for many different purposes, providing extra income to farmers.
Dual Crop Farming
This is the process of growing two crops close to each other (intercropping) or on the same area at once (mixed cropping). It is a very famous practice as it helps farmers prevent the total loss of crops from pests and diseases.
It is a practice where food is grown in a woodland ecosystem. The crops are integrated into the area without cutting down trees or clearing the forest. This is a good option for those living close to forests with no clear farming land.
Snails are a delicacy in many parts of the world. In the United States, snails of over $4 million are imported yearly. Also, snails are not expensive to breed and raise. They feed on leaves and plants.
Almost everyone in the world loves eating fish. That is why it would be a profitable farming business venture. It can be done in ponds, fish tanks, and even nearby bodies of water. Catfish, cod, and tilapia are in high demand, so you can consider starting with those.
There are many small-scale farm ventures that you could do that will be profitable. However, it is vital to research the specific areas before investing. This will give a deep understanding of the market and reduce the risks involved.