The goal of a modern sustainable farm is to integrate different methods of turning a profit, while creating a comprehensive holistic approach to farming. A major part of this is is the ability to integrate plant growth into your livestock and daily operations.
The goal of this approach is to use animals to improve the land in place of artificial chemicals, while using plants to feed livestock whenever possible.
The benefits from this method of farm management are numerous, and can be measured in different ways. For example, the approach could lead to increasing the profitability of your livestock, as well as making plant growth on your farm more multipurpose. What determines an approach as truly effective is when each part works to improve the other.
A simpler, less nuanced way to measure the benefits of integrated farming is to simply ensure that the farm is run in a way that brings in more profit than operating costs.
One thing of which every farmer should be mindful is the quality of their soil. Soil is your most important resource, one that you cannot replace. You must do everything you can to make the soil more nutritious without overusing it. Animal manure is a sure-fire method.
The goal should be for animals to help add nutrition to the soil, without using chemicals or at the least, reducing their use.
Compost is another resource small farms can rely on, one that is much less expensive when making your own. Compost can also be purchased on the market, or acquired from neighbors. When you have animals at your disposal, however, their manure can be used to create compost on a regular basis. You have a reliable supply of manure throughout the year, and can create compost on demand when it is needed.
Grain is a crop that will mostly be used to feed livestock. This is why a portion of your plant output should go towards grains specifically, making your farm self-reliant and preventing you from having to spend on food for livestock: a cost which is often at the mercy of ever-shifting markets.
These crops also prevent an additional benefit in their nature as a cover crop, keeping the ground protected during the winter months. This results in a more moist, fruitful soil in the long term.
It’s important for a farmer to have more than one stream of income. This makes their work more secure, allowing them to supplement one part of their financial dealings for another when necessary. Farmers gain more control over their finance, since they can choose to boost or halt one stream or another.
Having more than one income stream also means you stand a better chance of borrowing money: something every small farm should be mindful of, as they will likely rely on that income to cover quick costs.
It’s an overlooked truth, but farming is communal work. Farmers rely on others within the industry to build strong bonds in order to remain competitive. The broader and stronger these bonds become, the better for the farmers.
When it comes to farms that combine plant growth with keeping livestock, they are in the best position to collaborate with others.
Farms should strive to integrate plant growth into the keeping of farm animals and livestock. This can be approached holistically, using one part of the farm to improve and fuel the other. The result is a much more efficient operation, as well as increased streams of profit and the chance to collaborate with others in the industry.