Small Acreage Opportunities




Ag Biz News Column
Chad Gulley
County Extension Agent –Ag/NR
Smith County


Small Acreage Opportunities

You may ask, what determines a small acreage operation?  Any landowner that does not feel their property is not large enough to compete with larger landowners in the same areas of interest.  You may also ask, how can I make a difference?  If managed properly, your small acreage Agriculture ventures can be very successful as well as very competitive.

Small acreage operations may range from 5 to 100 acres; many are fewer than 20 acres. Many small acreage landowners look at various opportunities on their property including livestock, horticulture, aquaculture, forestry, and even wildlife to name a few.  Where to market your products is a key component that needs examined before starting a small acreage venture.

Meat goats, because of their relatively small size, are becoming better suited to small acreage operations.  Proper fencing, internal parasite concerns, and predator controls are key components of raising goats.  Marketing your goats is another area that needs some attention when deciding on this enterprise.

Hair sheep breeds are raised to produce hair as well as meat.  Hair sheep breeds are usually smaller than wool sheep breeds.  They are more tolerant of internal parasites.  Predators and fencing again are major components of hair sheep breeds.

Stocker cattle are either weaned calves of suitable age and body condition for the grazing program or they may be heifers with brood cow potential.   Stocker cattle offer landowners some flexibility as they probably will not own the cattle for long periods of time.  Stocker cattle require fencing, corrals, and animal health concerns as part of the management plan.  A cow/calf operation is not as flexible for the landowner as the stocker program.

Some people today enjoy raising horses, llamas, alpacas, chickens, ducks, geese, and even exotic animals such as white-tailed deer.  Any enterprise you choose, you may need to visit with other people locally raising these animals or do some research on these species through various university web sites.

Are you into horticulture?  Some people are looking at growing trees, vegetables, fruits and nuts, and even operate a nursery on their small acreage operation.  Some horticulture ventures will be seasonal while others may become more long-term.  Some horticulture ventures may take some time to get started so what are alternative options until then.  For example, planting a pecan orchard takes some time for the trees to mature before having enough pecans to harvest and market.  What will you grow in the meantime to present some cash flow?

The first step is to establish your goals.  You have to know where you are going in your business venture or you will never know when you have arrived.  The next step is to look at your inventory resources.  Examine your resources to see what you have and what you may have to purchase to get started.  Another step is to examine management alternatives.  You must take a look at production techniques, markets, and marketing options.   Also, look at the economics and consequences of your management plan.  You must then implement your plan and monitor the results.  You can be very successful if you research your small acreage Agriculture venture.

In 2014, there will be a series of webinar/workshops on small acreage horticulture crops. .  If you are interested in these small acreage webinar/workshops, contact our office for more information at (903) 590-2980.  We will develop a list of those interested to send information about these workshops.  The topics for these workshops include in February 20—aquaponics, April 24– composting, June 19 – grafting vegetable crops, August 21 – practical weed control, October 16– food safety, and December 11 – business planning.  Each of the hosted webinars will include a live question/answer session featuring the state’s leading authorities. Topics to be covered include:  requirements for setting up a new horticultural business, crop economics, marketing strategies, sustainable production practices, and more…

Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

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