If you’re looking at how to make money farming, prepare to put in some serious graft. It’s a notoriously difficult field to excel in, with farmers up and down the country facing problematic British weather, rising costs and expensive machinery bills. 

With a few commercial giants dominating the market, farming is a daunting prospect. You can still turn a profit if you know what you’re doing, but prepare to research your area and diversify in unique ways to keep a steady flow of income. 

With 71% of the UK’s land used for agricultural means, there are dozens of different methods for profitable farming. But which ones work and which are more hassle than they’re worth? We’ve compiled our guide on how to make money farming to help you find what works for you and your farm. 

Lease vs Use

Your first major decision is deciding how to use your land: do you lease it out or farm it yourself? Both provide an income stream, but in very different ways. As with all things, there are pros and cons to both:

PROS CONS
LEASING
  • You don’t need farming experience or knowledge to succeed
  • No initial capital required for machinery and infrastructure
  • A steady income from the monthly rent, plus the chance to negotiate a share of the profits
  • A low-risk option. You’re not reliant on weather conditions and a volatile market
  • You can determine how tenants farm the land
  • Limited income 
  • Reliant on the tenant using your land in the right way
FARMING
  • Higher earning potential
  • You can farm the land however you choose
  • Higher risk. You’re reliant on the weather, market, suppliers and stakeholders
  • Higher costs are involved. You need to invest in infrastructure, machinery and staff

In a nutshell, leasing land doesn’t offer as much chance for profit, but it minimises risks and secures a steady income. Farming the land requires experience, investment and staff, but there’s more chance of greater returns in profitable farming. 

If you decide to farm the land, let’s look at the key areas to consider when thinking about how to make money farming. 

Planning

Before you start anything else, plan! Speak to other local farmers in your area. They can provide a wealth of information, such as the best contractors and how they plan to use their land. Knowing their plans forms a basis for you to decide what to do with yours, once you’ve understood your land, that is. Is it best suited to arable or pastoral? What’s the soil like?

You may go down the organic route to charge a premium for your produce. It’s particularly worthwhile if your farm is near an affluent town or city where people are willing to pay the extra for quality. But what are the best crops to use? This is where research comes in. 

If you’re going down the pastoral route, what’s the most profitable farm animal for your land type? While cows are considered one of the best livestock options, you need plenty of space to give them room to roam and a decent vet on hand.

Budgeting

It’s a tricky act to balance your books with profitable farming. You need to cover initial investments, water, labour, animal feed and still make money in an unpredictable market. Budgeting is the cornerstone of your entire operation when considering how to make money farming. 

Seeking professional help is a worthwhile investment, and not just to save valuable time so you can focus on the land. A business consultant specialising in agribusiness can help you navigate changes in the market. They can explain how fluctuations financially impact your business, including how to maximise elements of profitable farming. 

Diversify

To make money farming, think of yourself as an entrepreneur as well as a farmer. Utilise every opportunity to make money from your land. From opening farm shops and glamping areas to getting local fishing groups onboard, here are some ways to diversify your farming business. 

Glamping/Campsites

Glamping has taken off in the last few years, but it requires initial investment to install shower and toilet facilities. You don’t need to provide much more, but you might decide to keep adding extras as your income increases. 

It’s especially worthwhile if you’re focusing on glamping rather than camping, as you can charge a premium for a luxury experience. Think decking areas, hot tubs and coffee machines. It’s ideal if your farm is near a town or city, providing a welcome getaway for city dwellers wanting a slice of the countryside. 

Farm Shop

A farm shop is the natural next step, as it means you can provide supplies to your camping guests. It could be particularly profitable if you’re in the sticks and there isn’t a shop nearby. You could provide breakfast hampers piled high with local produce to help with your profitable farming plans.

Farm shops were already a British staple, but even more so since the whirlwind success of Clarkson’s Farm. It’s shown that people are willing to travel a hefty distance for quality, local produce, but check the regulations around it first.

Dog Walking Areas

People love their dogs. They especially love having a safe outdoor space to let their dogs run free. If you’ve got a small section of surplus land, fence it off and make it dog-proof, then charge a small fee for people to use it for walking their dogs. It doesn’t require a hefty upfront investment and keeps a steady income stream trickling in.

Set up hourly slots throughout the week or even think about a subscription service. As your profits grow, you can invest more into the idea and see how far it grows. When looking at how to make money farming, it’s a low-cost side venture that’s worth considering.

Host Events

There’s big money in hosting events, especially weddings. Of course, the larger the event, the more you need to provide for it. If you don’t want the faff and expense of weddings, you could always aim for smaller events. Could you offer up a field for a local steam rally, fete or music gig? Workplaces need large meeting spaces, so could you turn a barn into a suitable venue with some tables, chairs and light refreshments?

In the summer, you’ll often find people wanting to hire outdoor space for fitness classes and boot camps, so this is another avenue of profitable farming to consider. A parking area is a real bonus, especially with many farms being further than walking distance from towns. 

Fishing

If you’ve got a viable fishing lake on your land, speak to local fishing groups and arrange for them to pay to fish your lakes. Offer day tickets or season tickets to capture the interest of locals and tourists alike. When deciding how to make money farming, it’s worth investigating every potential avenue. 

Conclusion

There are many opportunities to consider when deciding how to make money farming. Competing with the commercial giants is hard, but there are ways around it. Finding your niche and diversifying is becoming increasingly popular, so we hope our suggestions have helped you think about what to do with your land. 

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