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Diversifying farms with alternative crops and livestock

The diversification of farms isn’t new. Traditionally, subsistence farmers combined crops and livestock. This strategy of diversification means that when hit with unfavourable weather, pest or disease pressures or a bottomed-out market, you had a variety of commodities as a potential income. Today the concept of diversified farms focuses on enhancing the resilience and profitability of a farming enterprise.
Integrative farming and the role of diversification

Integrative farming is a style of farming that combines growing crops, raising livestock, and planting trees, for example. It can boost your bottom line while promoting biodiversity. By diversifying into a combination of agriculture crops and livestock, and value-added products, you can start circular agriculture. This integrative farming approach optimises productivity, and reduces waste while increasing profits and climate resilience. It’s an approach adopted by leading UK hay and forage crop producers.

Read more about sustainability and hay production here.

Cash in on premium specialty crops

A key aspect of integrated farming is tapping into profitable speciality crops and niche markets aligned with your hay and forage production. You can diversify farming income while meeting changing demand for local feeds and foods.

Alternative agri products: Vegtables and fruits with a premium payoff

Organic heirloom apples, rainbow carrots, wild-grown nuts and berries are just some examples of crops that can be integrated with forage crops and hay fields. Locally grown, nutrient-dense, produce may demand premium prices. But do research first on which crops are practical and profitable in your region.

New crops: Herbal crops for natural products

There’s money to be made through crop diversity. Consider growing botanicals such as lavender, chamomile, ginseng or echinacea. The booming natural health products industry may require these new crops for wellness products and oils, presenting new income opportunities.

Combining crops and livestock

There are benefits to combining crops and livestock. Crops can be used as supplementary animal feed while manure fertilise the soil for improved crop growth. This cycle reuses waste products and can provide alternative sources of income, instead of relying on a single commodity.

Nature’s fertiliser

Grazing animals like cattle and sheep as well as poultry are fertilising powerhouses that transform fibre-rich plant materials into nutrient-rich manures that replenish soil fertility. Their grazing patterns can naturally suppress weeds while building soil health and microbial quality. It’s a benefit of combining crops and livestock that need to be managed for optimum results.

Discover the challenges of sustainable livestock farming here.

Speciality livestock for premium products

To further boost income, you can also integrate niche livestock and diversify into secondary products:

  • Alpacas and llamas for premium fibre
  • Heritage turkey, and deer for speciality meats
  • Honeybees for pollination services and artisanal honey
  • Dairy goats/sheep for farmstead cheeses, cured meats

Planning and market research are key when diversifying farming. By innovating with new crops, incorporating symbiotic livestock and producing value-added goods you generate multiple income streams.

Want to discuss crop diversification? Tama is the number one choice for crop baling solutions. Get in touch with the Tama team.


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