Buying a small farm – starting out

 “What can I do with my small farm?” is a question I’m regularly asked. My response is usually: Well, what would you like to do and what will your farm  allow you to do? If you are thinking of buying a small farm, you should always have a vision of how you would like your prospective farm to look.

You should also have an understanding of the livestock or enterprises that you would like or are capable of running. Purchasing a small farm and realising later that it won’t suit your needs due to its location, resources or climate can be a costly and disheartening mistake.

Things to consider before buying a small farm

Before you purchase a farm – but also if you already own one – it’s worthwhile to consider the following:

  • Goals for the farm (hobby or lifestyle, supplementary or sole income)
  • Farm resources (water, soil, climate, vegetation)
  • Farming skills and knowledge you and your family have (business, marketing, tolerance to risk)
Clearly assessing the farm’s physical resources as well as your skills and knowledge is important when deciding if this mix is capable of achieving your desired goals.

 If the farm’s resources (water supply, soil type and location) are limiting and you haven’t purchased yet, keep looking. If you already own a farm, work  towards an upgrade and don’t make the same mistake twice – make sure you get exactly the farm you want the second time around, particularly if you are  looking for a reliable small farm income stream. It is important to be realistic. Farming is a tough game and being unrealistic about your level of farming  skills or your farm’s resources will only make it harder and less likely that you will achieve your desired goals. 

 Farming as a hobby or lifestyle 

Small farms provide a great place for families to live and relocate to.
A small farm purchased as a lifestyle provides a family with a great
farm experience without the farming pressures associated with relying
on making a living from the land (e.g. fluctuating commodity prices,
increasing inputs costs and extreme weather).


" It is important to be realistic; in farming, there are more aspects
than in most other businesses that are out of your control "

 Many lifestyle farmers successfully achieve a self-sufficient lifestyle by producing their own food, energy and fuel. 

 Similar to buying a small farm for a change of lifestyle, farming as a hobby is a recreational pursuit with no intention of making money. There is often an  overlap between lifestyle and hobby farmers. In both cases, income is derived from off-farm sources with no pressure to make money from the farm itself.  Both farming as a hobby and as a lifestyle can be easily achieved from a farm as small as 1 hectare (2.45 acres). A farm of this size can produce  vegetables, fruit, berries, nuts, and some meat along with the potential to sell excess produce.

 Small farm income: Supplementary or sole income source

 If the reason you decide to start farming is to provide supplementary or a full family income, then this is serious business. Setting up or running a small  farm should be approached like any other business: It requires thorough preparation and planning and you must be able to dedicate sufficient time and  money to the farm with the intention of making a profit. It is important to be realistic; in farming, there are more aspects than in most other businesses that  are out of your control – such as weather, markets and input costs – and that can adversely impact future earnings. 

 Land prices of small and lifestyle farms are often disconnected from larger farming land. With farm returns averaging 1.5-2% per annum (excluding capital  gains) it is unrealistic (although not impossible) to expect your farm to generate enough money to pay for the land, let alone the house and other farm  improvements. The area of land needed to make an acceptable living from your small farm income will depend on the farm’s resources (irrigation, soils,  infrastructure), climate and enterprise type. For extensive grazing and grain production, a minimum area of 408 hectares (1000 acres) would be required  plus some supplementary income. In contrast, running an intensive farming enterprise that value adds and sells its product direct to consumers – such as  flowers, chickens and fruit – can be viable on a land area less than 10 hectares (25 acres).

 Where to from here?

 If you are looking at buying a small farm and are unsure about whether it suits your needs, we recommend you get one of our experienced farm consultants  to conduct a pre-purchase inspection.

The author Charlie Roberts is one of the FarmStyle Australia experts, he runs this website along with a successful farm near Dubbo in Central New South Wales, so he walks the talk. Charlie has a Bachelor of Farm Management and is currently completing a Masters of Business Administration. He has worked for a number of agricultural companies in both New Zealand and Australia. He has a wealth of experience working with farmers in a range of environments.   
News Category

New Forum Topics

Topic Replies Last post Forum
5453 Pasture Improvement Costs
by@Nick on Mon, 01/14/2019 - 19:44
1
by admin
Wed, 01/16/2019 - 12:45
Farming Help
5349 Tractors
byBlackmount73 on Wed, 12/12/2018 - 21:27
2
by James F
Wed, 01/09/2019 - 19:27
Machinery & products
5451 17 year old with a strong passion for agriculture
byJames F on Wed, 01/09/2019 - 19:21
0
by James F
Wed, 01/09/2019 - 19:21
New Members
5363 Olive trees
bylazzaman on Sat, 12/22/2018 - 19:39
6
by Veronica
Wed, 01/09/2019 - 17:25
General Forum
5370 How to Package
byBarpajack on Thu, 01/03/2019 - 12:51
1
by admin
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 10:23
Farm planning
3319 Raising cattle for meat, how many per acre
bystevo7 on Mon, 01/29/2018 - 10:25
3
by admin
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 10:19
Farming Help
5371 Old Paddocks
byRowey5215 on Thu, 01/03/2019 - 23:35
0
by Rowey5215
Thu, 01/03/2019 - 23:35
Soils
2759 On farm butchering and slaughtering
byWoody1975 on Sat, 02/20/2016 - 12:14
3
by IanBuchanan
Mon, 12/31/2018 - 05:04
Farming Help
5364 Sale options sheep
bysummit1966 on Tue, 12/25/2018 - 16:26
2
by summit1966
Thu, 12/27/2018 - 21:52
Sheep
5347 Tractor Attachment Brands
byreeeen4 on Tue, 12/04/2018 - 13:54
2
by pk001
Sun, 12/23/2018 - 14:04
Farming Help
4168 Biodegradable soap for septic systems?
bytzeggy14 on Fri, 10/12/2018 - 08:26
7
by admin
Thu, 12/06/2018 - 10:59
General Forum
3272 My farming story from the beginning
byStevecz77 on Wed, 11/08/2017 - 09:19
2
by reeeen4
Tue, 12/04/2018 - 13:48
Farming Help
3855 Does anyone know about solid-liquid separator?
bytom2017 on Sat, 09/22/2018 - 16:06
1
by mark2020
Mon, 11/26/2018 - 17:43
General Forum
5338 Animal Scat
byCoastalfarmer on Tue, 11/20/2018 - 13:31
2
by Coastalfarmer
Thu, 11/22/2018 - 10:23
General Forum
4170 Paddock Preparation
byGuy on Sun, 10/14/2018 - 20:18
4
by Guy
Tue, 11/20/2018 - 18:36
Farming Help
5337 Lonely pig
byneilster9 on Mon, 11/19/2018 - 06:37
0
by neilster9
Mon, 11/19/2018 - 06:37
Farming Help
3843 Paddock Restoration
byMickNShaz on Wed, 09/19/2018 - 14:38
2
by MickNShaz
Sun, 11/18/2018 - 12:37
Farming Help
5335 electric fence help
bysummit1966 on Mon, 11/12/2018 - 21:36
2
by summit1966
Wed, 11/14/2018 - 18:50
General Forum
5320 dorper sheep new business
byBaarambaa on Sun, 11/11/2018 - 12:50
2
by Baarambaa
Wed, 11/14/2018 - 15:02
New Members
5317 The New Kid on the Block...
byRobdog on Fri, 11/09/2018 - 21:28
1
by admin
Wed, 11/14/2018 - 12:12
New Members

Our Sponsors

Our Partners