Planning Your Small Farm for Pleasure and Profit

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2002: $98,480.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $34,010.00
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Ronald Macher
Sustainable Alternative Farming Institute (SAFI)

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: barley, canola, corn, cotton, flax, oats, potatoes, rye, sorghum (milo), soybeans, sugarbeets, sunflower, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Fruits: melons, apples, berries (other), grapes, peaches, berries (strawberries)
  • Nuts: pecans
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, beans, broccoli, cabbages, cucurbits, eggplant, greens (leafy), peas (culinary), peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: herbs, ornamentals, trees
  • Animals: bovine, poultry, goats, swine, sheep, fish
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Animal Production: free-range, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational, housing, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: agroforestry, fallow, forestry, multiple cropping, organic fertilizers, stubble mulching
  • Education and Training: decision support system, extension, networking
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, market study, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: economic threshold, integrated pest management, mulches - living, physical control, row covers (for pests), trap crops, mulching - vegetative, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Soil Management: earthworms, green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, sustainability measures


    The project allowed the development of the Small Farm Planning Program online at This program provides budgets, ideas, and resources for a variety of crops and livestock, plus provides the starting basics to work out a farm plan to start a new farm or replan an existing farm.

    The program looks at soil types, experience, labor, and capital available to provide suitable crops and livestock for a sustainable farm.

    A fee to pay for future developments and updates provides six months of access to the program. Plans are to continue adding new crops and livestock and to continually update current budgets.


    The biggest reason beginning farmers fail is they have no plan. Normal farm plans take a considerable amount of time and figuring. The Small Farm Plan Program can help develop a plan quickly and easily in one day or less, without hours of research. It allows for future changes and allows the farmer to choose different combinations of crops and livestock that match his or her land, labor, and capital.

    Project objectives:

    Lack of planning is the biggest reason for failure for beginning farmers. The objective of this project was to provide a way for beginning farmers to make a farm plan by developing a computer program for them to work through. This objective was achieved after switching to an online program for easy access and updates. The program looks at soil types, experience, labor, land, and capital available. These areas are site-specific to each individual farm and its particular resources.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.