Finding the perfect agricultural farmland for sale can seem like a difficult process. In truth, you probably will have to spend some time looking at and researching several properties before you find one that you love and is the right fit to meet your goals.
In a recent article posted by the Realtor’s Land Institute, they suggest using these 10 tips to make sure that the farmland you choose is right for your plans.
You probably plan to use agricultural land as a farm, ranch, vineyard, orchard, or possibly even a timber forest.
The land’s previous use could influence whether you want to buy the property. Land that has sat unused for decades may not have many nutrients left for your crops. An area that was used for industrial purposes, however, could have toxic chemicals hiding in the dirt and water.
Research the land’s previous use so you can avoid threats and focus on finding a farm with healthy soil.
Before you buy farmland for sale, you should make sure that the soil has the right nutrients and acidity to grow your preferred crops.
Nutrients that you should learn about include:
Too much or too little of these nutrients could determine whether your crops thrive or fail.
The soil’s pH range also plays an important role in how well your plants grow. Neutral soil with a 6.5 to 7 pH works well for crops like:
Slightly acidic soil with a 5.5 to 6.5 pH makes a great place to grow:
Real estate land with a 5 to 5.5 pH should support:
You can purchase a soil test to measure nutrient levels, or you can reach out to your county’s Extension Office. Many County Extension Offices offer free or discounted soil testing services.
If you discover that the farmland for sale doesn’t have the nutrients and acidity needed for your crops, then you will spend time and money amending the soil before you plant.
Most crops prefer soil that drains quickly after a rain shower. Well-drained soil helps protect plants from diseases like stalk rot, root rot, blight, and molds. Standing water also creates breeding grounds from troublesome insects, including mosquitoes, aphids, and beetles that eat leaves.
You can improve a farm’s drainage by adding perlite, sand, compost, mulch, or vermiculite into the soil. Again, amending the soil will require time and money. If you want to start farming immediately, buy farmland for sale that already drains quickly.
Topology plays a crucial role in a farm’s success. Most farmers avoid land with steep hills because water can wash away necessary nutrients down the incline. If you want to buy land for sale in an arid region, then topology probably doesn’t matter as much. For example, plenty of people raise grapes successfully on hillsides in Arizona.
Just make sure that the agricultural farmland’s topography matches the needs of your crops.
Some agricultural land sits in the middle or outskirts of densely populated cities. Most farmland, however, is in rural areas. Depending on the agricultural land’s location, you may not have access to resources like water, electricity, and natural gas.
Some properties can give you a leg-up when it comes to resources needed. For example, a farm with a large pond, might give you access to all of the water you need for your crops.
If you cannot connect to the electrical grid or natural gas, though, you will face challenges using some machinery, controlling airflow through tunnels, and growing crops in hothouses during the winter.
In some cases, you can extend water and natural gas lines from municipal sources to your farm. The project could cost quite a bit of money, though.
Agricultural land involves much more than healthy soil. You need a farm infrastructure that helps you grow and sell crops. You can break the most important types of infrastructure into four categories:
Farmland roads need to accommodate large machinery like tractors, rollers, and cultivators as well as trucks.
Buildings should give you a safe place to store your equipment and crops. Think beyond having a good barn that protects hay from the rain. You may need to even look for buildings like grain silos, packing facilities, and refrigerated sheds that keep produce fresh.
Irrigation infrastructure could include anything from drip irrigation systems that run along rows of crops to overhead systems that sprinkle crops automatically. Before you buy farmland, make sure it has an efficient irrigation system that will give your crops the right amounts of water.
Also, keep in mind that electricity becomes scarce when you travel deeper into a farm’s acreage. Ideally, you have an electrical infrastructure that lets you turn on lights at night to operate equipment in the fields. Don’t expect access on every acre, though – That’s rare.
When you look at a map, the farmland for sale may seem to have a location right off a major highway or interstate. In reality, you may have to drive across miles of country road to get from the interstate’s exit to property.
You may not mind driving an hour from your farmland to the nearest major road. Consider, though, that you will need to haul heavy equipment and crops several times a year. The time and expense of driving your car 50 miles are considerably lower than the time and cost of hauling a 6,000-pound tractor along the same route.
You will also likely need to consider how easily you can reach the distributors, retailers, and markets that buy your crops. Every hour that you spend on the road is time away from your fields.
Since you want to build an efficient supply chain, look for agricultural land that puts you within reasonable distance of distributors and retailers. A centralized location that gives you easy access to several of the region’s cities and towns could help turn your farm into a successful business.
Today’s farmers need smartphones so they can stay connected to their employees, clients, and distributors. An area without good cell phone reception will make it difficult for you to contact the people who make your business successful.
You can use online tools to see whether an area gets good reception. The best test, though, is to visit the location and see how well your mobile device performs there. If you get poor reception, talk to your carrier about adding nearby cell towers, or if there is no other option you may want to choose a different property that already gets good reception.
Buying farmland for sale doesn’t mean that you own everything below the surface. Someone else could own mineral and gas rights. If they discover coal, natural gas, or other materials on your property, then they could have the right to enter your land and start mining.
As recently as 2019, the West Virginia Supreme Court upheld the right of mineral owners to use surface land to access minerals, even if doing so disrupts the surface owner’s business.