If you follow the latest developments in homesteading and farming, you're certainly familiar with the booming popularity of eco-friendly operations and other greening trends. According to studies from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, organic farms have increased their sales by 72% between 2008 and 2014.
These numbers provide a rather convincing argument in support of green and organic farming across the United States, but there are a number of factors to consider before making the conversion for yourself.
The issue of pest control is a huge concern when planning an eco-friendly farm or homestead. Pesky critters were once regulated through toxic chemicals, some of which are equally as poisonous to the environment and ourselves as they are to the pests they’re meant to control. Green farmers and homesteaders are left to seek alternative forms of pest control.
Fortunately, plenty of organic solutions are readily available. Various types of eco-friendly soap, dormant oil, and herbs can help with insect control within a green farming operation, as can some petroleum-based products. Additionally, certain insect extracts, ground crustacean shells, and even sulfur can be used to keep pests in check naturally.
Organic pest control helps the environment in a number of ways. You can effectively divert more chemicals from the land, water, and your crops if you reduce the amount of chemical pesticides needed for your farming operation.
In some cases, however, organic pesticides simply aren't enough, especially when serious or repeat infestations are involved. As such, you might resort to a chemical pesticide or a synthetic relative after all. A number of synthetic pesticides are permitted by the USDA for use in organic farming operations.
Wastewater Diversion and Processing
According to some reports, landscaping irrigation comprises nearly half of all water consumption within the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency has recently indicated the presence of animal waste — a result of large-scale animal farming — in more than 35,000 miles of rivers throughout 22 states.
Most organic farms include their own systems for diverting, processing and storing wastewater. Also known as greywater, this can be diverted from your home's sinks, bathrooms, or laundry room for reuse on your farm. It was once a laborious task that was reserved for large businesses and industries, but now strategies in green building are used in residential homes, farms, and homesteads.
There are a number of environmental benefits to recycling and reusing wastewater. Apart from lowering your overall utility bills, you can divert water from nearby lakes and streams and help decrease the overall water consumption of our country.
Grants and Funding
Another benefit to green farming is the availability of certain grants and funding opportunities. Various federal loans are available through the USDA Farm Service Agency, as well as a number of other governmental sources. The USDA's own Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, or SARE, has already made more than 5,000 different investments in eco-friendly farming since the 1980s.
If you’re pursuing third-party funding for your farm or homestead, it's important to understand the terms and conditions of the monies you will receive. Grants will typically be available to you with no obligation to repay, but loans are an entirely different story.
It's critical to make the distinction between a farming grant and a farming loan. If you’re pursuing a loan, it's equally important to understand interest rates, deadlines, and other nuances associated with the contract.
The benefits of government grants and loans are obvious. They provide you with a quick and easy way of establishing your green farm or homestead. But your future is at stake. You should always read any contracts in their entirety and avoid those that include high-interest rates, unreasonable payment deadlines, or other stringent regulations.
Maintaining Your Greening Effort Over a Long-Term Basis
The process of converting a traditional farm or homestead into a self-sustainable and eco-friendly operation isn't one that should be taken lightly. But with the proper framework in place, a little bit of knowledge, and a whole lot of determination, you can upgrade your property, and meet organic farming standards, and contribute to the current environmental rebirth.