As we head towards the end of January, it’s time for farmers in northern temperate climates to get ready for spring and the fast approaching growing season. This is an exciting time of the year and with careful planning and organisation, you can set yourself up for success.
We want to help you get a head start, with some tips for planning what, why, and how you’re going to grow in 2024. You’ll be able to spring into sustainable farming with our advice on choosing crops, preparing your farm, and how you are going to irrigate.
Sustainable Crop Choice
By now you’ve probably already got an idea of what you want to grow in the year ahead, but don’t worry if not, there is still plenty of time. Make sure either way that you’ve considered the following:
- Timing – for your local weather and climate conditions, when do you need to get planting for peak productivity. Have a look for online resources, in the UK one such resource could be the RHS calendar planners.
- Market demand – when will there be peak demand and also high/lows in competition? This way you can maximise demand and value for your harvests.
- Your budget – How much money can you afford to spend on seeds and supplies?
Once you’ve considered these factors, you can narrow down your choices. A good starting point is to talk to other market gardeners in your area. They can give you advice on what crops grow well in your climate and what is in demand at local markets.
It is time to get preparing
It doesn’t matter if you’re growing on an allotment or in the full swing of a profitable market farm, before you start planting you need to prepare your land – and now is the time to get going with this one.
Soil health is important to make sure you are getting the most from your seeds. Don’t wait until you start having problems, as that will take up a lot of your time and efforts, and you will have lost a lot of growing potential.
- You know your soil type
- Keep soils nutrient-rich
- Have ways to prevent soil erosion
- Know how you are going to prevent excessive water loss i.e. mulching
Plan and record:
Keep note of everything, make a plan and a calendar and write it down (even make a copy). We’ve seen some farmers do wonderful drawings and schematics of their farms, they don’t always need to be pretty, they just need to be helpful.
Know what you are setting out to do, what your goals and expectations are, and keep track of how it goes. You’ll be setting up your farm for years of success when you know what worked, what didn’t, and when/where you needed to make adjustments.
And if you want more detailed advice on how to turn your farm into a business, we can help you there too!
Water management has never been more important
Getting the right amount of water to crops at the right time makes irrigation one of the most important farm success factors. Well irrigated crops result in higher yields and better quality crops. Each crop will have different needs, and different weather conditions will impact your plans daily.
There are many [different irrigation options] for smallholders, sprinklers are one of the most common types of irrigation, due to their affordable costs and ease of use. But drip lines are also desirable as they can be more efficient.
When Through planning your irrigation it is important to manage water well, choosing efficient ways to irrigate will mean less water wastage. Reducing water loss will mean less water is needed for crops to grow, and as mentioned before this should all be planned out ahead to be adaptable to the ever volatile weather.
Going solar on your farm
The past decade has seen a surge in the popularity of solar energy in many parts of our lives, and this includes solar powered irrigation.
And there has never been a better time to start using solar on your farm, we’ve put together a handy online guide to help find the best solar water pump options for your needs.
You can’t have truly sustainable farming whilst still using fossil fuel pumps, and manual irrigation is so time and labour-intensive, that it is not able to scale. But there are so many other benefits too:
- Zero fuel costs – irrigate free with the sun
- Efficient water use – a lower flow than petrol pumps means you won’t over irrigate and waste water
- Less labour and maintenance – any good option will be easy to use and maintain, just make sure you wipe the panels every now and again
It is even a great option in places across Northern Europe and North America, thanks to decreasing solar panel prices coupled with increasing efficiency. There is plenty of solar energy to keep all our crops irrigated!
At Futurepump we have three pumps available through our webshop which are suited for different farming requirements:
The Futurepump SE1: For pumping up to 1,600 L/hr in full sunshine. The SE1 has a suction lift of 7m and total head of 15m.
The Futurepump SF2: Pumps up to 3,600 L/hr in full sun with a suction lift of 7m and total head of 15m.
The SF2H (high-head SF2): To get the SF2H you can purchase an upgrade kit on our webshop. With the SF2H you can pump up to 1,500 L/hr at a maximum head of 25m (120W version) or 45m (240W version).
We also sell low pressure sprinklers that work fabulously with all our solar water pumps. Check out more about our sprinklers to get detailed info.