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Scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Western University have teamed up with PlantForm Corporation to develop an edible antibody therapeutic that will protect human and animal health by preventing E.coli 0157 infection in pigs. The $150,000, two-year project is supported by OMAFRA through the Ontario Agri-Food Research Initiative, which is fed by the five-year,… Read More

Best Types of Farms to Start or Operate in Florida

florida farming

Florida Farm by Numbers

The average small farmer in Florida makes $41,015 (2020). The actual amounts that Florida farmers will typically range from $35,539 to $52,894. Many factors can influence individual earnings.

Obviously, the total number of acres you own on your Florida Farm makes a big difference, but if you plan your business right, it is possible to make a good living from even 1 or 2 acres. It takes a lot of hard work, but it can be done. That said, the average farm size in Florida is 201 acres.

There are 45 million acres under cultivation and 47,000 commercial farms. 5,600 farms have sales that exceed $100,000 (2012). In the years 2002 to 2012, there was a steady decline in the average size of farms in Florida, reducing from 234.1 acres to 195 acres, but by 2020 it had increased again to 2001 acres.

What Agricultural Products are Currently Most Successful?

These are the big crops grown in Florida, with Large acreages of commercially grown plots. Many of these are associated with Florida, but you may be surprised at some of them.

Florida Orange grove

Oranges

Most people associate Florida with orange juice, and indeed, Florida does account for a massive 66% of the USA market. This results in income exceeding $1.5 billion for Florida farmers. In the years 2011 to 2012, orange production was over 146.6 million boxes. The largest orange juice producer in the USA is in Florida. The company King Ranch has over a dozen orange groves across the south of the State with a total acreage of forty thousand acres of oranges.

florida sugar cane

Sugar Cane

The Florida sugar cane crop value is $673 million, which is 49% of the USA market. 14.4 million tons of this crop was produced in 2011. Based in Belle Glade, Florida, the Sugar Cane producers Cooperative, consisting of 45 independent growers, produce more than 350,000 tons of raw sugar each year. That is 75% of Florida’s output.

florida tomatoes

Fresh Market Tomatoes

Back in 2012, Florida growers had a 31% share of the market in the USA. They produced 29,000 acres of fresh-market tomatoes, worth $268 million. Lipman is the largest tomato grower in Florida (a massive presence) who controls 12% of the industry, worth $128 billion.

Florida sweet corn

Sweet Corn

22% of the USA Sweetcorn market is produced in Florida. In 2012 that represented 442,000 acres, which was yielding 165 cwt an acre. Florida is the top producer of sweetcorn in the USA, and 15% of the agricultural acreage is sweetcorn. Consumption of Sweetcorn is going down in the USA.

Florida snap bean

Fresh-Market Snap Beans

The 2012 Snap bean or pole bean crop in Florida was 56% of total USA production and worth $167 million. Most of Florida’s snap bean crop is destined for the fresh market; only a small percentage is processed.

Florida Watermelon

Watermelon

In 2012 Florida was responsible for 27% of the USA watermelon production. That is a segment worth $138 million. This was earned from a total acreage of 25,000 acres. Levy county has the largest acreage of watermelon, followed by Gilchrist county.

What are Profitable Plants To Grow in Florida?

We have looked at what the top crops are in Florida and seen how large the state’s agricultural production really is. Many of these markets are dominated by large conglomerates, and breaking into the market may prove difficult for a beginner Florida Farm. For example in Naples, the use of appliances to store crops can be challenging since there are not a lot of appliance stores in Naples Florida.  Possibly those big crops like oranges may not be the most profitable ones to farm? It may well be more profitable to look at more niche products, where there is less competition. Here is a list of eight of the most profitable crops to grow on your Florida Farm, some of which do not need large farms.

Florida Bamboo

Bamboo

There are businesses, landscapers that pay a lot of money for bamboo, well over $100 for one potted bamboo plant, and many growers find it hard to keep up with the demand. Bamboo is a crop where you can grow thousands of dollars worth of crop in relatively small acreage, selling the plants in pots. This is a great starter business.

Florida Flowers

Flowers

It is possible to produce a profit from the very first year with Flowers. It is a high-value crop that is quite specialized. There are various products and business models to choose from, and the start-up costs are quite low. You can sell quite well at local Saturday markets.

Florida ginseng

Ginseng

The nickname of Ginseng says it all. Growers often call it green gold. The crop value is contained in the slow-growing roots. It is not a new crop in Asia, but the USA market is growing. You have to wait six years to get fully mature roots, so it is quite a wait before you start to earn; however, many growers will sell partly matured roots to provide an income during that period. A half-acre plot can make as much as $100,000 over six years from selling rootlets, mature roots, and seeds. The crop will only grow in northern Florida.

Florida ground cover

Ground Covers

Ground cover plants are growing in popularity. They are low maintenance for householders and reduce householder’s maintenance costs for their gardens. Growers in Florida can produce Ground Covers with high profits. Growers should earn up to $20 per square foot—an ideal crop for those with less land. The best ground cover crops to choose from would be beach sunflower, ferns, railroad vine, English Ivy, Asiatic Jasmine.

Florida Herbs

Herbs

Florida residents can start a profitable Herb business quite easily. There is a growth in interest for medical herbs like Lavender. Many small nurseries only grow Lavender as the demand is so high for medicinal and culinary herbs. Around 24 commercial growers in Florida undertake commercial herb production. There are less than 500 acres under cultivation. Some are grown under glass, others in fields.

Florida landscaping shrubs and trees

Landscaping Trees and Shrubs

A few years back, in a 37 Florida-based Ornamental plant nurseries study, the average firm had sales of $2.71 million. The state of Florida is the second biggest producer of ornamental shrubs and trees in the USA. Sales have remained fairly consistent over recent years with no substantial growth.

Florida Mushrooms

Mushrooms

For those with little space, commercial mushroom growing can be a way of producing a great return. Oyster mushrooms, for example, can produce 25 lbs per year for each square foot. At $7 a pound, that is $17,000 worth of mushrooms from just 10ftx10ft. Larger plots can obviously prove quite profitable using these figures.

Florida Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental Grasses

Florida Homeowners are using more and more ornamental grasses because they are drought resistant and low maintenance. They can be used for ground covers and to create privacy barriers. Using pots, it is not unrealistic to grow thousands of plants in quite limited space.

A New Opportunity for Your Florida Farm in 2020

Following the 2018 Farm Bill, the Cannabis plant was divided into two varieties, which allowed States to create structures to oversee Hemp’s legal production. Florida took advantage of this and passed the Hemp Bill giving Florida farmers a golden opportunity to capitalize on this new crop.

Hemp is grown in a very similar way to many Florida fruits and vegetables using raised beds and plastic, a method that is not common elsewhere.

The Florida State advisors suggested that your Florida Farm Hemp could be a useful rotational crop that allows diversification for existing growers. It is a product that has high demand in the market.

farming in Florida

Starting with a Florida Farm

Beginning farmers have a variety of different challenges that experience farmers do not have to face. The rising cost of farmland, obtaining starting capital, and the lack of experience and learning, to name just a few.

The Department of Labor says that Small scale farming such as horticulture and organic farming at a local level is the best opportunity for Florida framing entrants to be successful as a start-up. Fewer people are interested in a farming lifestyle than before, and many farmers are approaching retirement. These two factors suggest that there could be more farms available to own or lease.

Getting the right finance for a Florida Farm can be tough. However, some specialist organizations can help. These include Farm Credit Associations of Florida and Farm Service Agency, who may be able to assist.

A recent survey suggested that the average cost of farmland in Florida ranges from $2,700 per acre of unimproved land in the North West of Florida, rising to almost $10,000 per acre for orange groves in central south Florida.

What You Need to Know

No doubt you have ideas in your head about the kind of Florida Farm that you want to own. Still, before you do anything, you should take a peek at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Cooperative Soil Survey to ensure that this is a good idea.

  • Other information you need to be certain about is
  • The water source for the farmland. How much water your farm is going to require each year
  • The topography of the land
  • What comes with the farm (Land, fences, outbuildings, and any barns).

The Farming Lifestyle

A heartbreaking sight, all too frequently seen in Florida, is that of the small farmer forced to sell-up and move back to the suburban life and a nine-to-five job because they could not make enough to survive. Typically, these are individuals who have not researched the economics of starting a farm adequately. They were in love with what they saw as the lifestyle but were not prepared for the realities. What appears to work in movies is often not profitable in reality. Investigating the right crop, understanding the business, and working longer hours than you are used to, are the reality of starting a farm.

Farm subsidies to the big corporate farms make it hard for small farmers to compete. Taxes are spent subsidizing these big producers (your competitors), who operate in a very different way to the small farmer. As a small farmer, you will be working hard, harder than you have ever worked before, and this will leave little time for business planning and marketing plans.

How to Make a Success of a Small Farm in Florida

You need to research your market, what the true expenses of running a farm will be, and most of all, check out the State and local regulations that could impact your business.

  • Regulations for selling raw milk
  • Regulations regarding the storage of farm fresh eggs
  • Property Codes
  • Do you need a license or certification?
  • If the public will visit the farm, what about restrooms and accessibility ramps, etc
  • Regulations about the distance from animal housing to neighboring residential properties

The paperwork involved in starting a business can be enormous, but do not be tempted to leave it. That can prove very expensive later. Make a business plan as you would for any other business, work out the steps required to reach your goals.

Considering one of your family continuing with their job while you start the farm. This extra income will help with the transition to full-time family farming.

Perhaps my main suggestion would be to choose the type of crop you intend to sell carefully. Understand that market. Ideally, have more than one crop so that if something goes wrong, you do not lose all your income. Look at the list of profitable crops I have supplied and investigate each one.

Final Thoughts

You CAN make a good living if you plan your Florida Farm and do things one step at a time, choosing the right crops and spending time on business plans and marketing. You have to be able to sell your crops, and that will not happen by itself. Concentrating on high-profit crops that do not attract the attention of the conglomerates, you can succeed.

Rural lifestyles are very appealing, and there is no reason you can not enjoy that life; it is better to start small, maybe part-time, with one partner working and build your business than taking a giant leap into the unknown. Get one small agricultural enterprise working, and then you can expand or diversify one step at a time.

 

Why Fire Protection Engineering is Important for a Farm

fire on a farm

 

Fire can break out at any time anywhere. It may be due to natural reasons and sometimes, due to the carelessness of humans. It is essential to have safety measures for fire everywhere.

A few measures like installing a safety alarm, having a fire extinguisher, and an escape plan are great for houses and building apartments. But how about a farm? How to protect it from the fire? And what measures should be taken to protect your farm in case a fire breaks out? We will try to explain all these questions and the technicalities of fire protection engineering and how it works in this article.

What is fire protection engineering?

Fire protection engineering also known as fire safety engineering in the US works on those principles of science and technology that protects the environment, buildings, people and their properties from the chaotic and destructive effects of fire.

The engineering pays special attention to how to make the environment disoriented during the fire break out. It includes different techniques to protect everything like using fire suppressions systems, smoke barriers etc. It is not limited to the evacuation of a fire. Fire protection engineering also focuses on fire detection systems and suppression using different techniques.

The other important aspects on which fire protection engineering focuses on are:

Fire prevention techniques in which buildings and other structures are created, with such layout and space planning that prevents fire break out.

Establishing escaping structures like lifts, exits, etc.

Wildfire management

Active and passive fire protection

Fire detection systems; like fire alarms, and brigade calling systems.

Evaluating human behaviour during fire break out and tricks to calm the situation

Risk analysis, fire modeling, and fire dynamics.

Behind every form of fire safety and prevention is an engineer, from sprinkler systems and search-and-rescue devices, to fire prevention systems and the special uniforms firefighters wear. Innovative engineering solutions drive fire protection technology. Fire protection researchers evaluate the fire fulfillment of materials of products and systems.

Researchers conduct tests for a wide range of purposes including material flammability investigation support, product research and development as well as to measure the performance of sprinklers. Automatic sprinkler systems are an important tool in combating fires.

The technology behind sprinkler systems has evolved significantly, and fire protection engineering has kept pace. FM Global, a leader in insurance and fire protection helps ensure that the sprinkler system components undergo rigorous testing for conformance with a variety of installation and approval standards.

Why is it important to protect farms from a fire?

A farm is a place with many organic materials, these organic materials generate gases that can be a cause of fire break out on your farm. It is important to keep a special check on what is going on on your farm. Several activities like smoking and uncovered electricity equipment increase the chance of fire break out in your farm.

Once a fire breaks out in your farm, you can suffer from a great loss. You might lose livestock in case of poultry farm, your property, crops in case of crop farm. This loss will result in your downtime, which God knows how elongated this period could be.

In order to prevent yourself from such devastating situations, it is important to have fire preventive measures on your farm. This is where fire protection engineering set foot in. Using modern scientific and technological techniques, you can prevent your farm from great defacement.

barn caught fire

Fire preventive measures for your farm

Besides proper engineering techniques to prevent your farm from fire, you should also pay heed to some significant safety measures. Some of them are:

Ventilation:

In case of a packed livestock farm, make sure the building is properly ventilated. There should be enough windows and a passage for airflow. The formation of byproducts like hazardous vapors can be the cause of fire breakout. It is, therefore, necessary to have a proper ventilation system so that these byproducts will pass out with the airflow.

Place fuel outside:

Make sure to keep the fuel and other combustible materials outside the farm. Another important thing to consider is to refuel the engines and motors outside the farm. Fueling and other flammable materials should be placed way too far from the farm.

Keep fire extinguishers:

It is important to keep a fire extinguisher on the farm. They are important in combating small fires. Not only in the farm, keep one in the car, in the building, in the storage areas especially near electrical equipment. The employees on your farm should be well aware of how to use them.

Never permit smoking

Make sure your farm is entirely smoke-free. There should be no one smoking inside or outside the farm. Never allow smoking close to flammable materials and even storage areas. The potting soil is quick in catching fire when dry.

Field burning

In the case of field burning, make sure you are far from places with electrical equipment and combustible materials. Be sure to have proper safety precautions and permission from the fire department. Also, you should make sure not to burn anything on windy days. The chance of fire spread is higher on such windy days. Be sure to keep fire fighting equipment and water nearby in case of an emergency.

Inspection of electrical equipment

Keep a proper check on electrical wires. Make sure they are properly enclosed in PVC pipes. Keep a check on such electrical equipment often to prevent your farm from any sort of destruction.

How Fire protection engineering protects farms from a fire?

Since fire protection engineering focuses on developing buildings and structures that have space planning and layout such that it prevents the spread of fire, therefore, it is helpful to consult fire protection engineers before making a building on your farm. They will help you in installing fire alarm systems in the right places.

Also, they will help you build escaping areas like exit lifts and emergency exits at adequate places. Installation of fire extinguishers at proper places is their thing to consider.

farm caught on fire

In case of fire break out at a farm

The first and foremost thing is to keep calm. The situation is usually not devastating, but human behaviour worsens the situation. While the fire breaks out, you need to act quickly. Whatever you are going to do, be quick about it.

Although the presence of a fire alarm alerts everyone. In case there is no fire alarm, start shouting and alert everyone. Make sure everyone on the farm knows about it. This way, more people will be there to collaborate for combat with the fire.

It is better if there is already a plan for such situations. It is a great practice to have fire combating rehearsals beforehand. Usually, fire combating rehearsals are practiced twice a year to prepare the staff for such situations.

Never look for your belongings while escaping in such situations. Not even your pets. While escaping, crawling is the best option as the smoke is clearer near the floor. Make sure to open the doors which need to be opened. Opening any extra door will result in the spread of fire.

Also, do not open the door if it is hot. Hot door indicates that the fire is on the other side of the door. If possible, try to close the open windows and doors. This way spread of fire can be restricted to some extent.

In the case of a person catching fire, let the person lay down on the ground immediately. Fire burns in an upward direction. Laying on the floor will reduce the chance of fire reaching the person’s face and head. In such a situation, try to cover the person with thick and heavy materials like a blanket or a coat. Heavy materials block the supply of oxygen thus, reducing the fire.

There is nothing wrong if we say that farm owners and employees sometimes need to stay on the farm the whole night. If the fire breaks out at night while everyone is asleep, a fire alarm will alert you in this case. But for some precautions, you can put the towels along with the door so that smoke doesn’t enter the room.

A lot of smoke can cause suffocation and ultimately death of people. If you are stuck in a room, try to remain close to the window and open it. As soon as the fire protection team will arrive, they will see you and taking you out of the place will be their priority.

Right after observing your situation and knowing you are in a safe place, call 911. This is an emergency call number which is free. They will ask for your address. Speak out clearly and accurately. Let them know if there is something very serious, like a person trapped in a room, they should consider.

Don’t go back to the building at any cost. Neither to pick your belongings nor to save any person. Let the firefighters know about it. They will handle the situation in their own way.

firefighters at a farm

The arrival of firefighters

After you have called a firefighter team, they will reach you in no time. Now, you must not panic the situation, stay calm, and let the professionals do their task.

Firefighters are trained for their work. They know where to start their work and where to end. Let them know clearly about where a person is stuck, the exact location. They will make way.

The next step they will take is, checking the heat on the door. This can be done by spraying some water on the door. If the surface hisses, it indicates that the surface is extremely hot.

Various methods are adopted for combating the fire. The goal is to cool down the fire. One common practice is using water. The water lowers the supply of oxygen, thus helps fight with the fire. Removing the fuel or using a foam, as in fire extinguishers, is another method of combating with the fire.

fire prevention for a farm

How fire protection engineers work

Fire protection engineers have the skills to cope with a particular fire situation by recommending fire-resistant materials. They work closely with architects and engineers to install fire prevention and detection systems so that fire can be prevented.

They conduct various tests and see performance to conclude whether fire protection is fully functional or not.

They make sure to conduct fire drills and rehearsals which are practiced in case of a fire breakout.

They pay a visit to different buildings and structures to see if the fire prevention systems have been installed correctly or not. Also to see whether the system is functional or not.

They have to visit the places where fires have been broken out. They will assess the situation and are responsible for concluding, how the fire broke out, what preventive measures were taken and what process was used to fight the situation.

They are responsible for providing locations for emergency exits and other preventive mechanical systems during construction.

Checking the material in a factory or a farm, and then advising the type of fire preventive system they should use is their duty.

They ensure that life-saving equipment is available at places where hazardous chemicals, hazardous materials and radioactive materials are present.

Fire protection engineering works in different departments like aerospace, environmental, and medical departments. Basically, their task is to ensure the protection against fire. They look if the health and safety equipment is functional or not. They are also responsible for training the staff for any emergencies.

A fire protection engineer requires a bachelor’s degree to be able to perform all the aforementioned tasks.

In conclusion

Whether you have a packed farm or an open farm, it is necessary to have all the preventive measures against any type of disaster. Fire prevention measures should be your priority among them all. Due to the presence of various hazardous chemicals and radioactive materials at some farms, the chance of fire breakout is higher than any other disaster.

It is necessary to hire a fire protection engineer while building storage areas or any other structure near a farm. They will help you construct the building with all the safety measures and emergency exits at the right places. Not only at farms, but we cannot also deny the importance of fire protection engineers at any other department.