Thinking About Owning a Farm? Here are 7 Types to Consider
There are a little over two million farms in the U.S. today, according to Statista.com, a number that’s been gradually declining over the past couple of decades, yet an increasing number of people enjoying hobbies like edible gardening and raising chickens, it might be tempting to consider owning a farm.
While leaving the hectic city life behind and living off the land may sound like a dream come true, before you think about buying one of the farms for sale in Michigan or anywhere else, you’ll need to know more about the different types of farming options out there and which might suit you best. With any of these options, they can be used as subsistence only, meaning producing just enough food to feed your family with no or little surplus to sell, or they can be used to provide income.
An organic farm is just what it sounds like, one that produces vegetables, fruits or grains, without using any herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The principal methods used include green manures and compost, biological pest control crop rotation and mechanical cultivation. Organic production aims to develop an enterprise that’s harmonious and sustainable with the environment, minimizing soil degradation and erosion, optimize biological productivity and decrease pollution. Organic farmers also exclude things like livestock antibiotics, food additives, hormones, genetically modified organisms (GMOS), providing animals with organic feed while allowing them to roam outdoors.
Standard Grain and Forage Crop Farming
A standard crop farm grows grains like barley, wheat, rye, oats, flax or forage crops, fruits and/or vegetables relying on the use of chemicals. Large-scale industrial crop farms typically grow just one crop at a time while smaller farms are usually more diversified.
Dairy farming, raising cows for the production of milk and other dairy products, can also be organic, by following organic farming standards as noted above, including feeding the animals with organic feed. Dairy cattle require a certain set of nutrients to produce milk, grow and birth calves, and support themselves. Farmers often work with nutritionists to develop appropriate rations for the animals, and if you raise all your own feed it will take a lot of time and a significant amount of land, along with the necessary equipment to plant and harvest crops.
Poultry farming comes with the same organic and non-organic options, raising domesticated birds like chickens, turkeys or ducks to sell the meat, eggs or both. It requires keeping the flock healthy and productivity high by feeding the birds quality food, getting veterinarian checkups and cleaning the poultry house.
Ranching focuses on livestock like cattle, sheep, goats or less common types like alpacas, bison, emu or elk. Depending on the animal, they may be used for breeding stock, beef or wool.
Beekeepers are basically farmers who raise bees, typically keeping honey bees to produce honey, pollen, beeswax and royal jelly. Most keep bees and sell honey as a part-time job, though some go commercial, earning enough to make a living.
One type of farming you probably haven’t thought about is vermiculture or owning a worm farm. A worm farmer breeds worms and using them to convert waste products like grass clippings, spoiled fruit and vegetables and other uneaten foods, or feces, into a nutrient-rich soil and organic fertilizer.