Now that you have your land and are done planning out how you want to run your farm, you probably want to start plowing up sod. But before you do that, you have to know what kind of soil is in your property so you can improve on it and change the crops or pasture grasses according to the soil's growing capacity. Here's how you can prepare your land for farming.
- Identify the soil type and fertility. Loamy soil is the best soil for growing crops because the size of its particles allows more water to permeate through and contains good properties held by silt, clay, and sandy soils. Once you've identified the soil type predominant in your land, you need to take steps to improve it according to the crops you want to grow. For instance, white lettuce flourishes in slightly alkaline soil while blueberries will need acidic, well-drained soils.
- Obtain your equipment. A tractor is an indispensable tool for small farms as you can use this for many tasks, such as plowing the land to carrying trees for firewood. You will also need smaller machines like a hand-held tiller.
- Try not to get too overwhelmed by the amount of land that you need to plow. If your farm is around 2-3 acres large, you can till your soil by placing a PTO-driven tiller onto your tractor. Most small farmers find this method useful and effective. If you have larger acreage, you can hire someone to till the land for you, especially if you can't buy the needed equipment yet. If you do have your tractor already, you can plow and disk the land yourself. The chisel plow is a useful instrument you can add to your tractor because it doesn't upset the soil as much as conventional plowing does. If you already have established seedbeds, all you need to do is disk the land. Be careful not to over-plow the land, as this will lead to soil erosion, loss of nutrients, and overall damage to the environment.
- Plant your grass. Don't worry about which seeds to get as kind of grass you plant isn't as important as you might think. You can plant several seed varieties and 30% legumes. If you want to make sure, ask your local County Extension office about what kind of grasses or seeds do well.
- Get fencing for your animals. The type of fencing depends on what animals you want on the farm. For instance, if you intend to raise goats, you will need a high fence because they can jump. Sheep and poultry can be contained with electric netting. Install the fence posts with a hole auger or a manual post hole digger.
Be patient. Converting your land to pasture will take more than one season, as it will take time for pasture grasses to grow in a field of whips and thistles. But if you pay enough attention and time to it, you can reclaimed any land for pasture.