Now that you’ve decided to delve into the world of farming, I’m sure you’re excited to start building a sustainable, profitable, and successful hobby-slash-business. But before your eagerness turns into a pitfall, note that farming for beginners can be a tricky–err–field. The following farming mistakes could put you out of business before you know it. So be sure to watch out for these common mishaps to secure your path to farming success.
1. Farming mistakes that arise from inadequate research
This isn’t just about hitting up Google for reliable resources each time you come across a new concept (although this is obviously very important, too). As a beginning farmer, you must exert due diligence to scrutinize and evaluate every aspect of your business.
I remember a story about a first-time poultry farmer who had at least 80% of his newly-bought chicks dying within the first two months. This farmer was baffled, as he diligently studied so he could understand the best practices in the field. He had good tools and equipment. He also used high-quality feed.
The guy only realized what the problem was after visiting the breeding farm from where he sourced his chicks. He discovered that the same cocks were used for breeding year-in, year-out. In short, the chicks were a product of uncontrolled in-breeding. This resulted in a weaker breed that’s more prone to diseases. Had he done enough research about the said farm, he would have avoided wasting a lot of money.
Also, researching doesn’t always mean resorting to online resources and old-school books. Sometimes, it pays to consult and seek the advice of expert farmers. You’d surely benefit a lot from their insights and wealth of experience. Just make it a point to go to a farmer that you can trust.
2. Starting with too little capital
While farms are among the cheaper businesses to start, many beginners tend to make the farming mistake of having too little capital. Countless articles claiming that you can start your own farm with less than $1000 might be too blame. It’s important not to be misled, as setting up a farm incurs a lot of start-up and emergency costs.
You have to have enough money to cover emergencies like animal sickness, destroyed plants, and unpredictable natural phenomena. If you’re unsure about your capacity to finance your farm, you can try applying for farming loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.
3. Expanding too fast
Bigger isn’t always better, especially for farming beginners. We know that it can be tempting to expand your farm as fast as you can. However, doing so without being a hundred percent ready for it is a recipe for failure.
Prioritize growing better over growing bigger. If you have not optimized every single square inch of your farm yet, delaying plans for expansion would be a smart move. This lets you avoid potential farming mistakes that could ruin your business.
4. Focusing on too many enterprises at a time
We all know that the most sustainable and profitable farms have different kinds of products. That way, if, say, the leafy greens market isn’t doing too well during a certain period, income streams from products like dairy and fruit are there to back them up.
However, the most successful multi-product farms probably started out with just a single specialization. And with the mastery of the products they already have, they expanded to include different enterprises.
With that said, take it from us and pick just one enterprise to start with. Trying to do too many things at a time can easily get overwhelming. As a final note, it’s important that you produce consistent results with your first enterprise before adding a new one.
5. Not having the right tools
There’s nothing wrong with being resourceful and employing on-the-cheap solutions when you’re first starting out. If you view farming as just a hobby, it’s understandably difficult to shell out big bucks for proper equipment.
It’s an entirely different matter, however, once you venture into farming as a business. For example, spreading out seeds by hand instead of buying a proper seeder can significantly affect the health of your crops. Settling for a bunch of residential refrigerators, instead of getting an industrial cooler, can also hurt your farm’s productivity.
6. Failure to treat farming as a business
One of the most common farming mistakes you can make is to fail to treat farming as an actual business. Sure, many farms started out as a hobby. However, you have to fully embrace it as a business if you’re serious about establishing it as a source of income.
As with any business, conducting market studies is important. Having a well-defined business plan will also increase your chances of success.
The success of your farm hinges greatly on how prepared you are for it in terms of finances, strategy, and logistics. Farming for beginners might be tricky, but investing ample time and resources to perfect your craft can keep you from committing dire farming mistakes and spell the difference between triumph and failure.