I've read a lot of blog posts about micro-farm equipment (always be learning). Unfortunately a lot of them miss the mark IMHO. Who puts a 'wheelbarrow' on a list of essential farm tools?
To me, the right equipment should save you (a) time; (b) money; or preferably (c) BOTH.
Small-scale farming offers an opportunity to cultivate a sustainable and thriving agricultural venture, even on limited space. To make the most of your micro-farm, having the right equipment is essential.
With that said, here's a few examples of what I consider to be necessary micro-farm equipment for productivity (and profit).
A market garden is often the centrepiece operation of a micro-farm. There are two pieces of equipment I consider essential here; 1 - the soil blocker; and 2 - the six-row seeder. Both tools meet criteria (c) above.
The Hand-Held Soil Blocker
A soil blocker is an amazing little tool that eliminates the need for tray inserts for starting seeds, saving you money.
Soil blocks grow sturdy transplants and reduces transplant shock. The soil blocker also makes transplanting more efficient by planting more than one seed in each soil block. These multi-plant blocks can be transplanted into the garden precisely spaced and very efficiently. I use multi-plant blocks for beets and bunching onions.
This is the tool we use to precisely plant carrots, radishes and turnips. Planting a bed of these small seeds is many times faster and more accurate than planting by hand.
You can make two passes on a 30" bed to make 12 rows; or by filling every other hopper make 6 rows 5" apart.
Here's another pair of tools that will save you time and money: the two-wheel tractor, and the power harrow.
I don't have one of these, but a neighbour does, and I've seen it in action. If I was to start all over equipping my farm, this would be my first choice for garden prep work.
For mechanization on a small scale, a 2-wheel tractor is a versatile option. With interchangeable attachments such as tillers, mowers, and plows, and the power harrow shown, this compact machine can handle various tasks, from tilling the soil to maintaining your farm's infrastructure. And it costs a fraction of the price of a full-size tractor.
Preparing the soil for planting can be labor-intensive, but a power harrow can make the task more manageable. This implement creates a fine seedbed, improving seed germination and plant growth. Because the depth of cultivation can be managed, it's a great tool to use when stale seed bed planting.
Another two micro-farm scale equipment choices that save you time and money: the collinear hoe and the flame weeder. These two work together with your precision six-row seeder to keep your garden weed-free with less work.
weeding goes hand-in-hand with stale seed bed planting to eliminate a LOT of
your weed problems in advance. Basically an oversize propane torch with a wide flame
spreader nozzle (or multiple nozzles) , the flame weeder needs to make only
brief contact with the weeds to kill them. Pre-sprout weeds for 3 weeks before planting then zap them with the flame weeder.
The collinear hoe is a game-changer for small-scale farmers. With its razor-sharp blade, this tool allows you to slice through weeds just below the surface, minimizing soil disturbance and reducing weed regrowth.
An because you have precisely spaced your seeds with your six-row seeder, the collinear how will make quick work of this chore.
Conserving water while efficiently irrigating your crops is essential for small-scale farming. Micro-sprinkler and drip irrigation systems provide targeted watering, reducing water waste and promoting healthier plant growth.
The key here is your garden layout. Group crops together that prefer overhead watering and those that prefer soil watering. With the use of rain gauges to measure precipitation and timers to manage the process efficiently, investing in proper irrigation equipment will save you time and money. It will also MAKE you money because more crops will get to market.
Fence Charger and Electric Fence
Protecting your crops and livestock is vital, and a fence charger and fence system can provide the necessary security.
Choose an electric fence charger suitable for your needs and install a well-built fence to deter unwanted pests and keep your animals safe.
If you integrate livestock into your micro-farm operation, electric fencing will keep them where you want them and out of where you don't.
Cold Storage. Just like protecting your garden, you need to take care of your crops once harvested. The first year of our CSA market garden we got by with a couple used refrigerators to keep the veggies cool.
But we quickly outgrew that, and built a cold room powered by a 10,000 BTU room A/C and controlled by a CoolBot unit.
If you are going to take the trouble to grow great veggies, keep them in top shape for your customers with a cold room. You can see more about CoolBot here.
Not equipment per se, but I believe every micro-farm should be equipped with a hoop house (high tunnel). There is no cheaper covered space that can save you money by growing your own transplants and make you money by extending your growing season.
My hoop house has paid me back many times over the cost of construction by allowing me to grow crops earlier in the spring and later into the fall, and also grow bedding plants for sale.
Equipping your micro-farm with the right tools and equipment is key to success. From soil preparation to irrigation and harvest, each tool plays a vital role in optimizing productivity and efficiency on your small-scale farm.
Whether you're a passionate backyard gardener or aspiring to become a full-fledged micro-farmer, investing in these essential tools will empower you to create a thriving agricultural venture. Choose the implements that align with your farm's needs, and get ready to cultivate the bounty of your small-scale farm.
Read more about how to use the tools in this article in Grow the Top Ten Most Profitable Vegetables
Start your own successful CSA Market Garden on your Micro-farm
Learn about raising meat chickens the New Terra Farm way with electric mesh fence and portable coops
Build your own hoop house with our Bootstrap Greenhouse book
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