What Every Idaho Farm Needs to Succeed
So, you want to be a farmer? There’s good, there’s bad and there’s definitely ugly in the world of agriculture. Farmers are at the mercy of Mother Nature. First, if the weather is uncooperative, a farmer can lose an entire crop. Agriculture life is early mornings, out before dawn. It can mean reheated meals when the entire house is already sleeping. Farming is much more than just planting seeds and cultivating them.
The most obvious piece of heavy equipment that farmers utilize is the tractor. In addition to the tractor itself, there are several different attachments that go on the tractor for various jobs on the land. This can include a rototiller, which is used for the purpose of soil cultivation. Seed drills and/or planter are needed for planting and manure spreaders and sprayers are needed for the fertilization process. A sprinkler system is essential for irrigation during the ever-dreaded drought that can plague any farmer. The list of equipment needed for harvesting season is dependent on the crop that has been grown that season.
Farmers have multiple needs for storage. They need to store everything from equipment to harvested crops. There are different types of garages that you can find for whatever your storage needs are. Most every farm has at least one pole barn that is constructed of durable steel. But the barns of old, constructed of wood, can still be found standing on farms that were established hundreds of years ago. Silos are used to store grain for sale and to store silage, the feed used for livestock. The types of storage space needed for farmers is a good representation of how multi-faceted farming life is.
One of the most important elements of success in the Idaho agricultural industry is networking. The power in cooperatives is unrivaled. The dairy industry has formed a cooperative in Idaho, for example. Rather than competing against one another, cooperatives work together to buy trucking companies and the equipment necessary to process the dairy for consumption. Cooperatives have been known to hire professionals for market research and lab work as well. Working together is beneficial to the community as a whole rather than competition causing riffs and making survival and success considerably more difficult for the community majority to achieve.
Agrotourism is that incredible point where tourism and agriculture intersect. Farms of all types make their operations accessible to serve as an educational experience to tourists. You may decide to make your farm available for tours or hayrides during harvest season. Some dairies host cheese-making classes and wineries are home to wine-tasting events. Companies like WWOOF, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, exchange a commitment for volunteer farm labor for temporary room and board. This global program is popular with world travelers who are happy to trade free labor for a place to sleep while on vacation. The agrotourism movement is gaining astounding momentum. Find your niche and partner with local tourist agencies to contribute to your farm’s success.
Crop rotation is a planting strategy essential to decrease pest issues and avoid diseased crops. This decreases the need for chemical input as well as decreases the high risk of yield reduction. Loss of yield means loss of profit. Crop rotation is like feeding your soil. Rotation such as corn followed by soy then next season and then wheat in the third year in the same field creates nutrient-rich soil that has a very low likelihood of disease or pest infestation.
From Drought to Drainage
Folks that aren’t in the agricultural industry just get a bit perturbed when it rains for days and days. For farmers, this can mean financial disaster. Droughts require irrigation, of course. But just like farmers have to water their crops when the skies refuse to provide all-natural irrigating, they have to have a drainage system for those days when the rain just keeps coming and coming. This can also assist with any salinization issues that may occur. Drought, waterlogging and salinization issues can all have a direct effect on growth and production. Water management is an integral factor in loss prevention.
Waste Management and Making Sense of Cents
It is very important to minimize the waste that your farm puts out. Farming gets dirty, to say the least. It is a good idea to have both crops and livestock. The manure from your animals can be used as compost, applied to your fields as a fertilizer or used as a profit-making commodity or as barter-value. Likewise, you can use some of your crops for silage to feed your animals. With proper logistics, you can make one part of your farm work for another part and create a certain level of self-sustenance for your business.
Time Management Skills
Don’t just budget your money, budget your time as well. Plan for the best, but be prepared for the worst. The weather is finicky more today than ever. It is always changing. You must be prepared for natural disasters to hit. If something goes wrong with your crop, you have to be prepared to work 24 hours straight, if necessary, to save your yield from dying off. Even the chance of the market tanking is something farmers must prep for. IF the market tanks, the money you may have been depending on could possibly fall extremely short. Be prepared to defend your yield and your income.
Above all else, farmers need the strength and courage to be successful. A dedication to their land and their soil will keep them going if times get rough. Farming can be taxing physically and mentally. The stress levels can get high when the yield gets low. Tenacity is a trait required for agriculture. If you can get up before the sun and work until the moon rises, you may have what it takes. You have to love the soil that is yours. You have to live to see the seeds you planted become healthy crops that feed other humans and animals alike. It takes a love for the earth to become a farmer. That love will attribute to the longevity and success of your farm.