Farming ideas

If you have a small farm and are looking to expand, there are various ways you may be able to achieve that. Business expansion for small or lifestyle farmers can take place in many forms, including: 
1.    purchasing additional land;
2.    agistment;
3.    share farming; or 
4.    leasing additional farmland. 

Leasing land for small farm expansion

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Awarded Australia’s best green table olives, Western Australian family-owned and operated Eagle Vale Olives is a niche farming success story.

Quality the key
The whole process of harvest, storage and transport is critical in the production of both table olives and oil.

Storage in cool temperatures with no exposure to the air is vital.

Olive oil, like fruit juice, goes rancid very quickly if not kept in pristine condition.

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Awarded Australia’s best green table olives, Western Australian family-owned and operated Eagle Vale Olives is a niche farming success story.

They have built a business on supplying customers with quality local produce through knowing what their target audience wants.

Along the way they have learnt how marketing can work for them and why diversification can be the key to success.

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Small landholders, Andrew and Bettina Pretsel, are giving pickled walnuts a new lease of life and turning a small niche product into a hit with gourmet food customers.

Selling the product
There is currently a small niche market for pickled walnuts as they are a largely unknown product. They have a long shelf life which is an advantage when building new markets.

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Small landholders, Andrew and Bettina Pretsel, are giving pickled walnuts a new lease of life and turning a small niche product into a hit with gourmet food customers.

Andrew and Bettina share their experience and advice for bringing to life this seldom seen ‘forgotten food’ including why they chose such a niche product, what it takes to grow, harvest and market pickled walnuts and what they have learnt along the way.

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When Jamie and Lara McCall followed their dream and moved to the ‘country’, they started a journey that would lead to running a thriving organic farm and farmstay business.

Work timetable 
With so much happening on the farm throughout the year, the McCall family have learnt to plan and prioritise their time. All crops and activities are carefully chosen to fit into their schedule so that no part of the farm is neglected and they are not constantly exhausted from trying to achieve too much.

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When Jamie and Lara McCall followed their dream and moved to the ‘country’, they started a journey that would lead to running a thriving organic farm and farmstay business.

They've diversified their farming enterprise to include bungalows and organic products (e.g. fruit, vegetables, honey, olive oil, wine) that are sold through local farmers' markets and to visitors.

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Have you purchased a small farm, or are you interested in lavender and thinking of starting a lavender farm? Many people do, some as a paying hobby and  others that go on to make a successful business from it.

Background to lavender farming
Compared to most other agricultural crops lavender can provide an excellent return from a small area. There is however a limit to the area of lavender that can be successfully grown at any one point in time. For most producers this area is around five hectares. It is possible to grow a larger area, however a larger farm is required with a much greater capital investment. A large commercial lavender farm in France.

A large commercial lavender farm in France.

Keys to growing lavender successfully  
Before setting up a lavender farm a number of preliminary decisions need to be made. These decisions need to be based on what you want to do on a daily basis and how much money you would like to earn? The best lavender returns come from agri-tourism, this is where the lavender farm becomes an attraction for tourists. This business method requires the owner to have the right personality to deal with the public. 

If you are a person who likes to keep to themselves or your property is not on a main road or near a tourist precinct then agri-tourism will be difficult to  achieve.If the idea of growing lavender is still of interest then you are best to develop a sales channel through a network of tourism outlets, not necessarily  lavender.

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For small landholders wanting to make a success of calf rearing and make a supplementary income from it, calf housing will be an important consideration. Providing suitable housing for calves at night and in bad weather for the first 4 weeks of their life can result in growth rates of up to 25%  above those of non-housed calves.

Individual or group housing?
There are two basic approaches to housing calves. They can be housed individually in pens or small huts or together in small groups. Both approaches have their advantages as well as some disadvantages.

Individual housing has the advantage that it’s easier to provide calves with individual attention and potentially gives greater control over infectious diseases. Problems of calf testicle/pizzle and ear sucking are also avoided. However, tending to calves in individual housing does tend to require more labour input. In addition, individually housed calves can experience socialising problems and post-weaning growth checks once they are introduced to other calves.  

For small landholders who are time poor and rearing calves part time, group housing can provide significant time savings. Group housing is effective so long  as continual attention is paid to shed hygiene and the progress of each individual calf is monitored well.  

Calf bedding can be untreated wood chips, shavings, sawdust, straw, or shredded paper

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Hand rearing calves is a popular business for small farmers. The initial investment required for calf rearing is relatively low while labour can generally be  easily worked around off-farm commitments.

Here are some tips on raising calves on a small or hobby farm – focusing on how and what to feed them.

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