The quality of your farm soil, as well as the amount of top soil on the property, is more important to your livelihood than you may have imagined.
Let’s chat a bit about farm soil quality and usage before you put submit that offer on the country living property you’ve been desiring. After all, we can’t have you becoming dirt poor!
It doesn’t matter what you’re planning on growing on your farm. Whether you plan on growing fields of cash crops, cucumbers and other fresh organic vegetables for your dinner table, or raising a herd of beef cattle, you’ll be planting something and relying on the farm soil fertility, quality, and depth to ensure your acreage is sustainable.
Don’t worry if you hadn’t thought of this and are already living in the country. It is a common mistake to overlook farm soil quality when purchasing a farm for sale. More often than not the situation and quality will be workable, but if you’ve overlooked it and chose poorly, you might have to invest thousands of dollars to bring the soil up to meet your expectations and needs.
Take the time now to discover the quality of the soil on the acreage you’re buying.
A Visual Check for Soil Quality
There are a few checks and tests you can perform quickly on your own when you’re first viewing a property for sale.
First, you’ll want to know how many inches of topsoil is on the land, so bring a shovel along.
Ten inches is decent enough to grow a crop or garden on, 12-15" inches is far better. The topsoil should be dark, and feel soft, loose and crumbly.
Directly beneath the top-soil is sub-soil. A sub-soil’s drainage capacity is most apparent after a heavy rain — if the ground is muddy or spongy trouble is quick to follow (it’s not draining properly).
Investigate the matter further by digging a full 3 feet down — if the sub-soil is hard even after a heavy rain you will have a difficult time with both plants and septic systems. Hard sub-soil means that drainage is poor and both plants and seeds are likely to drown when setting roots.
What’s Happening to the Farm Soil Next Door?
You can also look at the nearby farms. What are they growing? Talking to the locals about soil amendments or crops they grow is best. If you can’t reach them, peek over their fences – just don’t go digging in their yards to see if they have the same problems the farm you want to buy has!
If your neighbor is having success with a crop chances are pretty good you will too. Plus, you’ve got an awesome resource just a stone’s throw away once you get to know that neighbor!