Unfortunately, being a farmer isn’t always just about farming. There’s suppliers to pay and invoices to generate. In other words, it is a business like any other with its share of paperwork, inventory, labor costs, and taxes. You have to wear two hats to do a good job, but your goal of feeding quality fare to the public shouldn’t be second fiddle. This is where a few tips and tricks come into play.

I had to learn to run a business by the seat of my pants as I went along. You get wise quick the hard way if you make mistakes. Now I feel pretty confident that I can give advice on the subject. First and foremost, assess your skills and hire someone if you feel deprived. But to save money, give it a try using simple and easy-to-follow rules.

  1. Keep good records. You will always refer to them in the future as a guide to future profit. You will note what works and what doesn’t over time. After a while, keep what you like archived and shred the rest. No need to build up boxes and boxes of paper in your storage shed. Shredders are cheap enough these days and most do the job just fine.
  2. Keep costs under control or you will see your profits decline. A manual or digital ledger will tell the tale. There are plenty of good software programs like QuickBooks that you can use to create helpful analytical reports.
  3. Prepare well for your annual trip to the accountant. The more you do and the less he or she does, the greater the savings. It all goes back to point one about records. Your accountant will tell you what to keep.
  4. Try new things. Most farmers are victims of the past but so much in the industry is changing. Try to keep up, attend seminars, read online, and stay up to date. It is amazing how much research has been done on irrigation, fertilization, crop rotation, and the like.
  5. Promote your products and stay in touch with the vendors in your community. Learn about public relations, advertising, word of mouth, and more. Competition is always there no matter how small. Don’t let it get ahead of you.

The moral of this story is to run your farm like a business and keep pace with the modern world. Rural or urban, the principles of a company are the same. The more hands on you are as a business person, the better your enterprise will run. Use these tips and watch your farm grow and prosper. You don’t need to go to business school to survive, however. It is a practical job that has been performed for centuries. Only now you have a smart phone and a computer.

I have never thought of myself as handy, but recently I surprised myself and build a rain catcher out of old pipes. I found my dad’s old welder in the barn and in minutes, I had an effective and efficient means of collecting rain water to save money on irrigation. I am so glad he didn’t give it away when he moved off the premises. Water can be expensive on a farm and during the rainy season it pays to be a little industrious. It was an experiment, but it soon paid off. I could then apply the budget to the summer season when rainfall is infrequent.

A welder is not an easy tool and you have to read up on it or get a demonstration. I did both. Thank heaven for sites like YouTube and Rate My Welder. It is amazing how many things you can find on video in the “how to” category—even cutting and welding. The rain catcher was my own design and consisted of some metal sheeting left over from a repair job last year. I just added a pipe for drainage and a receptacle for storage. With a hose system, I could access the collected water and tie it into the existing irrigation system. I have read that people on islands use water catchers all the time such as Bermuda or the Bahamas. You see them on the roof adjacent to a tank mounted on the side of the house. Apparently this primitive technology is old as the hills.

There are times and places when you want to be totally self-sufficient. It can be by necessity or choice. There is no time when you don’t want to conserve funds for another project or use on the farm. Upkeep is endless. I pride myself, as an organic farmer, on being practical and creative. I am not among the big operators on corporate enterprises. I am still old school. While irrigation is certainly nothing new, you have to be near a water source and I am lucky that there is one nearby. The problem is that it is a utility regulated by the local municipality and they charge a specified rate. It is all part of the process, but I am thrilled that I have found a way to beat the system, at least for a while.

The savings will go to needed repairs and improvements and an expansion of the growing capacity of the farm. I have done well at the regional farmer’s market and have a multitude of clients who need organic produce on a daily basis. I sell seasonal items and homemade preserves. People want pesticide-free food grown under natural conditions. And what could be more natural than rain water? I have big plans for the future in spite of the market chain competitors. Thanks to the renewed interest in health and nutrition, my kind of crops are increasingly in demand. I expect that this ensures my future!

I love farming because I know I am creating a healthy lifestyle for the community. I envision myself as part of a giant worldwide machine that is producing quality fare to improve and sustain humankind. Plus, I also enjoy being outdoors in the fields checking out the crops and addressing issues of nutrients and water. I am also at the computer from time to time looking up new information on the latest techniques of rotating crops and preserving the soil. After a few hours of intense searching and reading, my neck gets so stiff and sore. I even went and read up about it on a web site called Higher Massage. The effects are shocking! I wonder how my friend, who works in an office, can stand to do this all day without relief. When he started to complain months ago, I suggest regular massage, but he still is suffering and there is no end in sight.

The only thing he can do at the point is quit his office job and come to work on the farm. He needs to stop causing himself undue physical harm. He is straining his neck and it may cause irreparable spine damage long term. While he likes his work, he also sees how rewarding I find it to run a farm. He never hears me go on about aching body parts and mental or physical stress. I know how to take breaks and adjust my position to avoid excess wear and tear, especially on my neck.

It took him a while to consider my offer. He hesitated, but when his masseuse mentioned that his neck ailment was getting progressively worse, he got my immediate attention. We were going to give him a trial run at the farm. He is a smart guy and his ability to research and analyze would add to our think tank and help us improve our growth strategies. But I wasn’t going to let him sit in the office glued to a computer screen. After all, that is what brought him to me in the first place. I was going to get him outdoors. He wouldn’t have to literally turn the soil or plant, but he could teach workers who specialize in this area how to do it more efficiently and effectively. I didn’t mention that he was an efficiency expert at his former job.

I appreciate not having to do everything myself so that the business can grow by leaps and bounds. There is a big demand these days for organic food and I sell well beyond my small community. In a short period of time, my friend’s trial run was over and he had proven his chops so to speak. I hope that someday he will become my righthand man. In the farming business, there is always a need for another voice, a new perspective, and innovation. Even if you are a small cog in a big wheel, applying brain power to the enterprise will yield many rewards, most of which are better crops.

I hate when I blow the household budget on boring things like replacing old, defunct air conditioner/filtering system that has just died a horrible death. It was taxed for too many years and finally gave out. In this day and age, it is a necessity of life so I was on the hunt. There are so many models at every price point. If you have a central system, you replace the master unit. There are also room cleaners with powerful fans and high-quality circulating HEPA filtration.

I did some research at https://www.nomoresmokesmell.net/hepa-hepa-like-key-differences-consider/ and found that it is the most effective type. Rather than do ambient air treatment, I am going to get a HEPA system for the central unit. There are cheaper HEPA-like units, but why skimp on something important. I want the genuine article. Only the real thing will tackle the frequent cigarette smoke that lingers in the air after a party.

I have really compromised on my values by letting people smoke in my house as opposed to the front or back yard. I see neighbors lighting up, the butts glowing in the dark of night. Do that many people still smoke? I guess so, but you just don’t see people smoking in photos on Facebook like you used to in old printed photos. I have a few friends and family members who are heavy indulgers and it goes with the territory if you want to stay connected. I have banned pipes and cigars, but that is as far as I have gone. I hate dictating behavior, but there is that not-so-secret health concern, even from second-hand smoke.

This issue has helped me make my decision to get the best air filtration and cooling system available for a single-family home. HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters cleanse the air to medical-grade levels by means of a thick media (pleated) to remove a whopping 99% of airborne pollutants and allergens. If you worry about toxic microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and mold spores, this is your baby. There is one problem that may make you want an ersatz HEPA-like filter. The more efficient the system, the more it constricts duct airflow. Yes, this is a fact. What it means is that your AC decreases energy efficiency and reduces system performance. There are clearly plusses and minuses.

My serviceman has helped me see the light. There is an alternative to in-duct HEPA filtration—and that is an external filter connected to the system ductwork by means of a bypass duct. You then install a blower in the filter to draw air out of the main duct. It pushes this air through the filter and sends the filtered clean air out of this duct. You get continuous cooling and filtration in your household, all keeping within HEPA standards. No more restricted air volume. Problem solved.

I put in the system the expert recommended and was more than satisfied with the results, and the cost. It was just a bit more than a simple no-brainer replacement. Now I don’t mind if a few recalcitrant guests insist on smoking during a party.

I love getting my hands dirty; in other words, I love running my fingers through the deep rich soil. Not just any soil mind you. I run an organic farm and use organic and sustainable growing practices so you can trust that my “dirt” is in a sense, clean. I think of what I do as paving the way to the future and a better way to grow food. More and more, people talk about productivity and improved quality so lately these are my buzz words. They want healthier lives and that means controlling what you eat to avoid pesticides and toxins. I believe I can help raise the standard of living of many by using old-world traditional techniques that are alien to the big agro companies. While I contemplate the rows of vegetables before me, I think about new strategies for preserving the land.

I am outside most days, but today I spent hours in the shop instead of the dirt. It was an issue of practicality. I had a specific need. I was using a circular saw from Woodwork Nation in my work shed to make a metal trellis for some produce to climb on. The saw made it easy to cut pieces just the right length so I could assemble them into the final puzzle-like gridwork. My saw isn’t too lightweight, a type you can use for wood, but it has a powerful motor that gives me the durability and performance I need for my many garden projects. I never had a career in construction, but have learned as I go. It saves on hiring professional labor and it is quite rewarding and fun. I found out why you need a well-balanced tool and the importance of quick, one-handed adjustments using the large rubberized levers. You get a better fit and more control, by the way when you have rubber grip on the handle. I like how easy the settings are to read due to oversized numbers and ruler markings. It is a dream of a saw. Plus it has two built-in LED lights that illuminate the line of cut for absolute accuracy. Add to this, a dust blower that clears this line and a blade wrench attached to the saw for fast and convenient blade changing. Then there is the super duper blade itself—a premium 7 ¼” carbide tipped framing blade that cuts faster than most lighter weight tools and lasts twice as long.

I hope I have given you the parameters of the trellis job. It turned out great and will be as useful as I had imagined. It is the perfect size. I want to control the vines once and for all. You can use these structures anywhere you grow plants or even attached to the side of a house for flowering vines. They make the plants look great as they ascend into the heavens, stretching their snaking thin green arms this way and that.

One day a week is targeted just for me. It is farmer’s market time when I sell produce and hand-made wares like fruit jams and jellies. I look forward to sharing my crop with the public. I have regulars who enjoy my fresh fare and wait days to get what I have to offer this week. No one knows for sure in advance. Of course, it is seasonal but everyone in the area knows this. By now they have some idea of what I will bring. If they want tomatoes, peaches and strawberries, they look forward to summer. For apples and pears, it is fall. Winter means root vegetables of all kinds. If they know how to can in mason jars, they can buy any time of the year and save it for later in the pantry. This is a popular enterprise where I live. This is a reasonable approach to feeding your family and stay on trend. Canning isn’t difficult and I have given demonstrations and sold supplies. It helps my business since people can’t buy enough to make a dent in my crop if they eat it fresh. I always have a decent showing when the canners arrive.

I have regular canners who like the information I provide. I carry sheets of recipes and new canning ideas in the backpack I take along with me to the market. I got the idea from Facebook. It is so handy to reach back and pull out what is needed. I used to take a regular tote but found that I didn’t know where to stash it or I would forget it when I left. I always have an extra shopping bag to store my own purchases. Other local farmers have things I need and don’t produce. Plus, I love all the bath oils, soaps, candles, and homemade baked goods that abound. Market time is when all the creativity comes out. People sell plants with macramé hangars, wood artifacts, wind chimes, and simple clothing.

The farmer’s market is a social time for the locals. There are tables and chairs next to the coffee stand and many booths to buy food for lunch. Kids are running about gleefully and can’t wait to get into the petting zoo. Mothers are carrying babies and fathers have a tot on their shoulders. Teens are enjoying ice cream and grandparents are taking cell phone photos. It is a joyous day, particularly in good weather. I love the fresh soup and made-to-order lemon and powdered sugar crepes. When I have sold my lot for the day, I can relax and enjoy my friends before packing up to go home.

I sigh with relief when the day is done when I have made a good profit and sit and plan for the next week that always comes. I unload my purchase and store any leftover produce before getting the crates ready for another delivery. It is a pleasant routine and constitutes the major part of my life.

If I had to have a motto, it would be “farm sustainably, live sustainably.” I already devote my life to organic growing practices that I believe are the future of farming. We have come a long way in recent decades due to more consumer awareness and the green movement. It is a huge improvement over our wasteful ways that fostered dwindling resources. I am all about being responsible to the land and encouraging others to change their agricultural tactics to grow better food for more people. It is a noble goal if I don’t say so myself. Where do you stand? I want to have an impact in some way, if only as an advocate. Innovations and new strategies are in high demand and I hope to play a salient part of the effort. Meanwhile, I want to promote quality, improved production, and overall superior health for the majority who live off the land. I also believe in focusing on world hunger and lack of clean water by developing and disseminating ways of exporting what we know in the west to the third world in need. We should never stop experimenting so we can share our expertise. What we do for ourselves should be passed on to others.

With this as my basic philosophy, I am always looking to make more environmentally-friendly decisions on my farm on behalf of the industry. If I can save energy, lower my costs, and pass them on to buyers, I will have succeeded in setting an example. My latest project does this in its own small way. When my old, inefficient water heater became the source of a rising energy usage problem, as evidenced by my utility bills, I wanted to replace it right away. It takes so much more energy to produce the water I need than a tankless model. Why didn’t they invent them sooner when they were building and supplying my house? An electric tankless water heater that I found on Water Heater Watch is now the state-of-the-art device, saving more than 40% of what users used to spend. No one paid attention until it affected their pocketbooks. When attention turns to money, it automatically turns to stopping waste. I, for one, don’t have that huge water tank to empty sitting in my garage. An electric tankless version makes water only when you need it, and only as much as you can use. Furthermore, you can certainly cut out that one extra-long super-hot shower a week.

It should be mandatory to replace tank water heaters. You know those obsolete archaic devices with gas pilot lights. I always hated lighting one in fear that the thing would blow up. I had more reason than conservation to make a change. Going electric and tankless was a very smart move. Let’s see if I can start a grassroots effort in this blog to get you all to follow suit. Some lucky buyers will get a discount, rebate, or tax credit.

It’s all about health. If you have it, you have everything they say. Part of it is to eat well. I am a proponent of organic farming so naturally I recommend this kind of fare. Get rid of the junk in your life and you will thrive. The world is overrun with obesity and it is no surprise given the easy availability of processed food in supermarkets. No one grows their own. You must make an effort to find the best produce and fresh ingredients.

The flip side of eating well is getting a lot of exercise. I believe in a balanced life full of fun and sports. Any kind will do depending upon where you live, the season, and your body type. I like basketball myself and play it often. While it is great for my well-being, my kids love it too. I teach them how to lay up and shoot hoops. No matter how bad they are, they fight for improvement. We have a hoop in the backyard and a high quality outdoor basketball as well (see https://www.ballersguide.net/best-basketballs-for-indoor-and-outdoor-use/). It builds self-confidence and strong mental health.

However, because of basketball, I was laid up for a while. I am not used to taking time off from the farm as I practice a healthy lifestyle. Somehow, I got in the way of another player and I tripped. I hurt my ankle enough that I couldn’t walk for a few days. I had to forego my gardening chores. I have been working on some hybrids and had to hang up my tools for the moment. In a few days, I will be back.

Who hasn’t sprained or turned their ankle? Well, maybe not playing basketball. I think of skiers breaking ankles and perhaps daring figure skaters. Basketball seems like a more run-of-the-mill activity. You see kids playing it after school on the playground and in parks in the inner city. I don’t see a lot of plaster casts hanging around. I don’t associate lay ups with being laid up. I have proved them wrong. While it is not a serious injury, my chores are compromised for a while. It won’t stop me from playing the game again when my ankle is stronger. It is just too much fun and my primary social life. When I see a pick-up game on a street corner where someone has put up a hoop, I long to join in. Basketball is spontaneous, exhilarating, and challenging all rolled into one. I could go on and on.

Gardening to some, including me, is a kind of sport and pastime, while it is also a career and way of life. You are bending and reaching and working those thighs. You are out in the fresh air taking in oxygen deep into your lungs. If you go at it for long enough, you will tone up and burn calories. For me, gardening is a personal philosophy that revolves around human health and well-being. Juxtaposing farm work and playing basketball yields some interesting comparisons. They both make up the bulk of my time.

As an organic farmer, I am already environmentally friendly by definition. I am always looking to make improvements in my growing strategies to increase production and especially to conserve water. That is a top priority. I want to provide people with quality food in a way that fosters sustainability. No wastage for me. I rotate my crops and enrich the soil naturally without pesticides and other pollutants. One of my current concerns is to use reverse osmosis to decrease water usage on the farm. As I like to say, we should be doing what we can.

You might not know that you can get such systems for your home to ensure pure drinking water. You get fresh taste, which is of great value for cooking, making coffee and tea, baby formula, serving others, for pets, and plants. How did we get along without it before? If you want beauty benefits, you wash your face in filtered water. Plus, if you have dietary and health issues, it is quite efficacious. The best systems eliminate 99% of the pollutants in tap water. It is a total solution for the whole house.

And then there is the farm. That is a larger task. No matter your acreage you can use the same system on a broad scale. Your crops will thrive and drink in chemical-free liquid. You can pass on the purity to customers who buy your produce. More and more people expect healthy food, plus they like knowing that the farmers are not wasteful. Reverse osmosis is a common solution to water usage. It is not a new idea, dating back centuries, but it works. The technology improved considerably until a synthetic membrane was invented that prevented salt from passing through—only fresh water. It was an ingenious idea that helped convert ocean water.

Thus, reverse osmosis plain and simple is a water purification system that decontaminates or separates out unwanted particles. As I read about it at https://www.homewaterhealth.com/best-reverse-osmosis-system-reviews/, there is a natural movement of water from a condition of high pollution (high solute) through the membrane to attain a low solute concentration. It is called osmotic pressure. The membrane does all the work as a dense barrier layer. For the farm, I would need a large capacity system – I discovered this by chatting to them on Facebook. It performs its function while it saves water, our precious resource. You can imagine its value around the world, not just on my little farm.

Here is how it works in a nutshell. Impure water is routed from one area into another through a membrane by means of a process called osmotic pressure. If you want to get scientific, “the water produces an analogous flow that is triggered by a pressure differential.” You can see that I have learned a lot. The implications are enormous in providing potable drinking water. Think of remote areas of the planet and places where clean water is scarce. I am proud to play my little part in an important area of conservation.

As a farmer, I earn my living through my own land. It is in my best interest to take good care of this land and the water that I use for the crops I grow on this land. Growing food to feed your neighbors and the rest of the population is an incredibly noble job and I am honored to do it.

The foremost concern of sustainable farm practices is protecting the water supply. By using irrigation systems with low volume, I am able to conserve water. And using the water from the pond on my property—specifically designed for this purpose—helps me to provide my own source of water and not rely on the local water supply. In this way, I can also ensure that harmful chemicals are not leaching into my soil or water supply. If I am not using them, they aren’t in the run off into the pond. I am lucky that I have had an adequate supply of water for all of the years I have been farming. Some years have not been so great, but I have managed through the systems we have in place here.

Another problem with farming is that most of the equipment we use is gas powered. I have yet to meet an effective solar powered tractor. Maybe one day. Or perhaps I will be able to use an alternative fuel. But in the meantime, other than doing everything by hand, the only thing I can do is use the most fuel-efficient machinery I can and keep it all in good condition. Both of those things are in my own interest anyway. We do use solar panels to generate some of our power and I hope to continue to add more as we go.

We have to take very good care of the soil if we want it to continue being used for growth. Plants can rob soil of every nutrient it has and make the ground barren. That is a real concern for farmers because then that land cannot be used to plant anymore. Rotating the type of crops planted and proper tillage can help. ‘Listening’ to the ground is probably the best advice I can offer, though. You need to grow crops that are suited to your land and the conditions of your environment, not the crop that is going to make you the most money. Honestly, when you try to force crops to grow where they don’t belong will cost you more in the long run as you struggle to take care of them. Crop rotation and planting cover cropswill keep the weeds and bugs out when done properly, and has the added benefit of keeping the soil from eroding. And farms that have livestock have a pretty natural form of fertilizer available to them for free.

By taking care of my land and water supply, I can continue to farmhere as long as I can afford to keep my doors open and seeds in the ground. When I use smart practices to grow crops now, I know that I am ensuring that my children can run the farm long after I am gone.

My grandfather was a farmer. So was my father. It became the family business, in a way. I tried to fight it when I was younger. I wished so hard that my family owned a car dealership or a furniture store. Anything was better than what we were! My dad always looked ruddy and perpetually smelled like either sweat, dirt, animals, or some combination of the three. He embarrassed me when I was younger even though he was never anything but a hard worker and a good provider. I am not sure why but all I wanted was to be away from him and everything he represented. I studied other things in school and I even got a job where I had to dress in a suit every day. It didn’t make me happy, though. For all of my defiance, it turned out that I liked being outside.Despite my best efforts to convince myself otherwise,I missed working on our land, overseeing the progress of crops from planting through harvest time. There is a rhythm and a peace that can be found out in the fields. I have not been able to find that kind of satisfaction anywhere else.

I made the decision to get back into farming when my dad got sick. I took over the daily duties at the farm, and every night I would pay him a visit before turning in. He would sit in his bed, looking frail and tired. So unlike how I had always seen him. He had always been a giant to me—big, strong hands, a quick smile, and a sharp mind. I could not reconcile that image with the man before me. We would sit and talk about the crops and the livestock. We would go over what was working and what wasn’t, and what to do about the stuff that wasn’t. Things started to come back to me and I learned quickly as I went along. It was not long before I didn’t actually need his advice or input, but I always asked for it. I think it helped him to feel needed. I think it kept him feeling connected to the land that he loved and had spent his whole life working. Land that he suddenly could only see out of a window. He passed away about a year later.

There is an art to growing things, my dad used to say. It involves understanding of the soil, the water, and the seed. You have to know what the seed will need to grow and thrive. You need to understand what the soil needs to provide nourishment to the seed and so that the soil remains healthy long after the plants have been harvested. You have to be protective of the water—not to abuse or contaminate it; instead it must be treated like the valuable, finite resource that it is. Those lessons he taught me are what made me decide to start growing things organically. I wanted to put more effort into growing things in a sustainable way. I want to make sure that the land that we have stays fertile for a long time to come, and I think organic practices are the best way to achieve that goal.

Organic foods can be difficult or more expensive to grow, more expensive to sell, and the certification process is not always easy or farmer-friendly. So why grow organic food, and why should people buy organic products?

When you grow organic products, you are thinking about the future of your land and not what is best in the short term. You take into consideration the damage that pesticides and other farming techniques will have on the land over a longer period of time and keep artificial chemicals out of your soil. Using organic fertilizers mean less waste and costs less if you have livestock or other biodegradable options available instead of synthetic fertilizer. Organic farming also looks at farming proactively, instead of simply treating problems as they arrive. It takes more forethought but is more beneficial to your property over the long term.A great byproduct of not using artificial chemicals in your pesticides and fertilizer means you don’t contaminate the groundwater. This, again, is good for your land and for any crops you intend to grow in the future. However, there is more to it. By not polluting the groundwater, everyone who lives around your farm also benefits. Another side effect of organic farming is that you actually create habitats for other creatures. While that might sound like a concern, there are actually plenty of beneficial wildlife out there. There are birds that help control the insect population and pollinators like bees that can flourish in an organic farm environment. And unless you’re raising the bees yourself and taking care of them, your wildlife helpers are basically free!

When consumers purchase organic products, they have more of an idea of how their food was grown than if they buy non-organic. They know that their food was grown without synthetic fertilizer. Nothing was treated with pesticides, nor was it grown in soil treated with chemicals. It came from a farm that does not use genetically modified seeds. If they are getting meat from an organic farm, they know that the animals they are eating were fed unmodified grain grown in a sustainable and toxin-free way. They know that the slaughtering and preparation were done without introducing unwanted chemicals into the process. Many people simply prefer organic products because they think they taste better, are more natural, or want to support better farming practices. I tend not to argue with the why as long as they buy enough to keep me in business.

Organic farming teaches you to respect the land and the health of your customers. It teaches you to look at the world with a long-term focus as you make your decisions. I have found that people are willing to pay a little more for good quality food, which is why I originally looked into organic farming. Over the years, I have learned that I benefit from it as well by the better farming practices we have adopted in the organic process. My plan is to remain an organic farm.

Farming is one of the oldest professions. Without advances in the fields, we would still be using plows and doing everything by hand. I certainly would not be able to make a living doing my job the same way they did way back when. For starters, I would need to have a lot more people who I would have to pay much less! Just because I am an organic farmer, it does not mean I do not embrace advances.

Luckily for all of us, just as technology has improved things like the auto industry, agricultural machinery has been created and modified. There is so much that can be done with machines now, making the job of farming less back-breaking, slow, and tedious. What used to take a week of hard labor before with handheld tillers now takes a few minutes using gas-powered equipment. This allows me to plant more crops on bigger fields in less time. Many of these machines can be automated now, eliminating even more labor time and removing much of the human error involved. Harvesting and processing crops also used to take entire families weeks to do, and now it is a much smoother process thanks to harvesters and other machinery.We have come a long way from the use of fire and axes as ways to maximize crop growth!

Even the crops themselves have changed. Farmers have long been trying to perfect crops—cross breeding with heartier strands of produce to strengthen crops, introducing pest-resistant varieties, and using the seeds from plants that achieved greater yields than others. Now we can even genetically modify crops, creating a sort of supercrop—pest resistant, drought tolerant, nutrient-dense, cheap to grow, and achieving a high yield. Here on my farm, we do not use any genetically modified seeds, but these kinds of seeds can feed incredible amounts of people nutritious foods in a cost-effective way.

Livestock breeding has come a long way as well. Humans have been breeding animals since we domesticated them centuries ago, even before we understood DNA. Man has bred some breeds of horses (and even dogs) to near-perfection. As time has gone on, our techniques and strategies have improved. We now have a better understanding of how genetics affects livestock.We can more easily manipulate breeding to our advantage. We can weed out undesirable traits that can cause defects or allow animals to be more susceptible to disease, or we can introduce new ones with the help of artificial insemination or other, more natural breeding strategies that help us maximize our results. What used to be little more than a crapshoot is now a scientifically monitored process that is more effective than ever before.

More accurate weather forecasting has been a huge help to farmers. We are better prepared for early or late frosts, can prepare our land for natural disasters, and have an idea when a bad storm is coming. In addition, irrigation systems have also changed over the years. Whereas even short droughts used to spell doom for small farmers, we now have water-saving and storage strategies that allow us to keep our crops from withering and dying. As our irrigation techniques and equipment improve, the less water is needed to water our crops and the less water is contaminated as we move along.

All of these things don’t necessarily make a farmer’s job easy. There is still a lot of guesswork and finger-crossing involved. You can listen to the weather every day, plant your hearty crops in machine-expertly tilled soil, and still have it fail because of a freak late frost or too much rain. I am thankful for all of the advances that have been made and I hope that people continue to strive to improve the process.

Your location in the world dictates much of what you can do as a farmer: what you can grow, what livestock you own, how you grow and harvest crops, who you sell to and for how much. Just as different crops are successful in different areas based on exposure to sun and type of soil used, differing food preferences can affect what farmers choose to plant and what livestock they will raise.I’ve always been interested in why other regions farm the way they do and why they grow what they grow.

Although I would love to grow coffee here on my farm, my land is nowhere near suitable. I would need a much warmer climate, like that in Kenya. There, they grow some of the world’s finest coffee through a co-op system of small farms. It is government regulated and the beans are sold through a coffee exchange.  Many areas require shade trees to help the coffee trees grow but in Kenya they have been able to remove many of their shade trees. This is a prime example of growing something in the proper environment.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, many developed countries use large factory farms to raise livestock. Livestock can be expensive to feed and the more you have, the more land is necessary to feed and house them. However, they also provide benefits to the land. For example, sheep trample weeds and prevent them from spreading. For that reason, even though wool isn’t really produced in England anymore, sheep are still raised.

Aquaculture has been a legitimate technique used in Asia for centuries. For example, many Japanese people who live in hilly areas would not be able to grow much produce. Instead of moving or being dependent on others for their food, farmers worked around the problem. They created tanada, or rice terraces. This technique actually utilizes the hilly terrain to its best advantage. Rice does not take up a large amount of space to grow so it was the perfect crop. The plants need water and trap it when it rains. This prevents landslides, flooding, and erosion. These rice paddies also encourage a rich and flourishing ecosystem that would not survive without the tanada.

Another example of using the land to your benefit can be found in India. India is a large grower of banana crops, which can thrive there when using proper growing techniques. Prior to planting the trees, they prepare the ground by growing a manuring crop like cowpea. The cowpea plants give the ground nutrients and act as a covering crop. We use similar techniques here at my farm for growing other crops. It cuts down or eliminates the need for synthetic fertilizer. Next, they often use a tissue culture plant technique which allows for more uniform growth and is pest/disease free. It guarantees most plants will yield fruit and allows farmers to continue to plant year-round.

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. If I come across another interesting technique, I’ll write another post about it!