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7 Key Elements to Look for in a Farming Service
Farms and ranches across the country have a big responsibility to provide the commodities needed to feed, clothe and supply power to the nation’s citizens. Whether they produce meat, grains, lumber or fuel derivatives, the pressure is on to produce more efficiently, ensuring safety and sustainability standards are kept with the finished product delivered in a timely manner. People are depending on them.
One of the big challenges for farms and ranches is coordinating all of the processes needed for a successful yield. There are so many variables, such as soil condition, water availability, animal health, and the list goes on. This is where a farming service could be an invaluable aid.
A farming service handles so many different facets of the agricultural arena, from seed handling to the consumer; an efficient farming service can handle it all. But, finding the right one may prove to be a challenge.
Here are 7 things to look for:
1. Soil Analysis
A farms soil is the lifeblood of it's productivity. Soil contains nutrients, living and dead organic material, water and air. Without healthy soil, plants will struggle to survive let alone produce. A good farming service will conduct thorough testing to determine any additional nutritional needs are met as well as which crops will flourish.
The following are some soil tests that ranches and farms need for their production plan:
- Soil fertility test to determine efficient crop yield and quality
- Testing to ascertain the variety of crops that can be produced in each planting area
- Chemical mapping to help manage lime and gypsum application
- Soil trace and macro elements analysis
2. Seed Integrity
Without healthy, productive seeds, planting is a waste of time and money for ranches and farms. A crop that doesn't grow or produce can cause a great financial burden, let alone the discouragement it causes. Seed testing helps alleviate that from happening.
A thorough farming service will provide ranches and farms with:
- Seed sampling allows a farming service to determine if the seed is corrupt
- Genetic testing to determine if the seed has been modified
- Testing a variety of seed will help determine what the failure percentage will be
- Facilitate seed certification to help with marketing to new or expanding markets.
3. Water Evaluation
A big factor in successful farming has always been the quality and availability of water, the lack of which will destroy a harvest in a heartbeat. Farms and ranches must have readily accessible healthy water to succeed, making it increasingly important to know where you stand.
A good farming service will:
- Test water for minerals, nutrients, heavy metals or toxicity
- Analyze irrigation and drainage processes and make recommendations
- Test for field water capacity and recommend effective plant root depth for production
4. Assessing Fertilizer Needs
All plants require a certain level of nutrients to survive and flourish, such as potassium, phosphorus, calcium and nitrogen. Macro-nutrients like zinc also feed and nourish growing crops. Through thorough soil testing of farms and ranches, nutrient deficiencies can be determined.
A good farming service will examine all of the elements and recommend a workable fertilization plan which could include the following:
- Fertilization field trials to compare results
- Monitoring of plant success after fertilization
- Adjusting fertilization needs based on individual crop needs
5. Crop Rotation Recommendations
When an individual crop is sowed in the same spot over consecutive seasons, it will naturally deplete the soil of a particular set of nutrients. When farms and ranches intelligently rotate their crops, it allows the replenishment of these nutrients and more. Knowing the proper crop rotation is vital to the success of the harvest. Crop rotation also increases soil structure and fertility through the various decaying crop roots, reduces erosion of the soil and helps remove a previous crops pests.
A reputable farming service can manage this important process by using:
- A thorough yield assessment to determine viability
- Harvest analysis
- Eco-toxicology reporting
- Product chemistry to be certain the nutrient levels are sufficient
- Scheduled field inspections to check rotation success
6. Farming Equipment Needs and Recommendations
It takes various types of equipment to transform a plot of land from dirt to a bountiful harvest, and taking care of this equipment can be very time consuming. Ranches and farms may also have a need for an individual type of machinery for one season, making it seem frivolous to purchase outright. A competent farming service will analyze the coming crop needs and chart a plan to meet that need.
They can also:
- Handle all machinery preventative maintenance
- Facilitate the acquisition of various mechanical needs per process through a possible equipment sharing cooperative or on a lease basis
- Fix broken machinery or help acquire essential parts
7. Animal Husbandry
So many products are retrieved from farm animals, such as eggs, dairy products, meat, wool, etc... A healthy stock doesn't just happen by accident. It takes continuous observation, intervention and care. Farms and ranches who produce these basic staples of life are on constant vigil to keep their animals safe from illness and harm.
A farming service can provide much needed assistance, such as:
- Emergency care, for those inevitable animal injuries
- Health diagnostics and treatment
- All aspects of reproductive care
- Medical services such as x-rays, ultrasounds and vaccinations
In conclusion, farms and ranches require a tremendous amount of knowledge, skill and effort to be successful and a good farming service can be the catalyst to make that happen. They can provide everything stated above as well as accreditation, certification, help with shipping in an international market and so much more, making it a viable alternative to going it alone.