Unfarmable Land? Not So Fast!


Megan Wild 

Homesteaders with a portion of their property unavailable for farming. New gardeners faced with less-than-optimal land for sale. Farmland overused and exhausted by tillage or damaged by pollution and contamination — these are only a few examples of the unfavorable situation farmers and ranchers can find themselves facing in terms of unfarmable soil, which will affect your ability to lead any kind of self-sustainable lifestyle.

As a homesteader, self-reliance and sustainability are your primary goals, but turning a profit from your crops or livestock matter as well. The virility of your land can make or break any economic value your farm can offer, so identifying alternative ways to generate income from your farm will be important. Here are a few ideas.


1. Alternative Farming and Harvesting

If your property does not allow for widespread crop growth due to a lack of soil fertilization, substitute traditional crops for non-traditional produce. Mushrooms are a crop that you can grow virtually anywhere because their environment can be manufactured. Snails are a valuable export crop that needs no preparation or encouragement, while Tilapia fish require only a small startup investment and yield great results on their own and as sources for fertilizer.

Through the introduction of organic matter, virtually any type of soil can go from unusable to valuable in time. Think of the process as an infusion, and it becomes a simple idea: The “bad” soil gets broken up, allowing for a sizable amount of “good” soil and compost materials to get added and sink in. After a certain amount of time passes, the bad soil changes thanks to the presence of the good soil and organic matter, and the entire area begins to improve.

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