Buying farmland -- What can I expect from the soil?

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In summary, the conversation discusses the possibility of purchasing a 25 acre farm in Georgia that has been used as pasture for horses for 35+ years without any amendments. The speaker plans to have the land tested at Clemson and wonders if it is possible to revitalize the exhausted soil through adding lime, chicken and horse manures, and planting cover crops. The conversation also mentions the potential presence of arsenic due to past agricultural practices and the need to consult with the county agent and extension office before making a purchase.
  • #1
I am considering buying a 25 acre farm in Georgia. Has been used as pasture for horses for 35+ years, no amendments, no lime, no anything added but manure droppings. Plan to have tested at Clemson - but am I crazy to think if it is as exhausted as it appears, that we can take 1-2 seasons, lime, add chicken, horse manures, allow it to rest - plant with cover crop and then till that in - that it will be able to recover and become healthy, sustaining pasture land for grazing livestock, perhaps a dozen at most cattle or sheep or combination thereof?
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  • #3
It is feasible. @Tom.G gave you carrying capacity information. That is a start.

Farmland in your area usually has a checkered past. In the early 1800's the main crops were tobacco and cotton. The agricultural practices back then amounted to deplete the soils, then move West. Plus, if cotton was grown there, weed control amounted to arsenic sulfate. Arsenic residues do not "go away" because Arsenic is a chemical element, it cannot become something else less toxic. So, be sure to consult the county agent and see if Arsenic testing is warranted. There might be a concern if you plan on producing vegetables on any scale from home use to marketing the produce. Wells are a problem too and are a source of arsenic if you irrigate.

You really want to contact these guys before you buy:

Ask about use history and soil and groundwater contaminants like arsenic.
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What are the most important factors to consider when buying farmland?

The most important factors to consider when buying farmland include soil quality, water availability, climate conditions, topography, and access to markets and infrastructure.

How can I determine the quality of the soil on a potential farmland purchase?

The quality of the soil can be determined through soil testing, which measures the nutrient levels, pH balance, and texture of the soil. It is also important to consider the soil's drainage, depth, and potential for erosion.

What are the different types of soil and which is best for agriculture?

The three main types of soil are sand, silt, and clay. The best type of soil for agriculture is loam, which is a mixture of all three types and has good drainage, aeration, and nutrient-holding capacity.

What are some common soil-related challenges I may face as a farmland owner?

Common soil-related challenges include soil erosion, nutrient depletion, soil compaction, and pest infestations. These can impact crop productivity and may require management strategies such as crop rotation and soil amendments.

What are some sustainable practices I can implement to maintain healthy soil on my farmland?

Sustainable practices for maintaining healthy soil include cover cropping, reduced tillage, crop rotation, and the use of organic fertilizers. These methods help improve soil health and preserve its productivity for future generations.

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