Here are just some ways on how to make money from land, I have often heard it said that if you want to make a small fortune from farming then start out with a big fortune. As funny as that sounds it has some element of truth to it as it is easier to lose money in business today than it is to make it.
A lot of elements of farms today can be loss making and it seems to be getting more difficult to turn a profit as the years go by. In the last number of years there has been a huge expansion in dairy farming here most of it is from 2015 onward when dairy quotas were abolished here. Beef farmers tillage farmers and new entrants built milking parlors and diversified into a new farm enterprise for themselves.
Dairy farmers themselves saw an opportunity to expand and try to become more efficient. The main reason for this is dairy is seen as one of the few farming enterprises that there can be still a profit made from. The others beef sheep and tillage unless you have a vast area of land are becoming more of a hobby for part-time farmers who more and more are relying on an off farm job to support their income.
Things have changed over the years and what worked in the past might not work today and likewise what works today like dairy farming might not work in the future. Things are always changing as time goes by and as Darwin put it (it’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change)
the same could apply to any business some times changes happen fast like with music and video stores when people started streaming from the internet and sometimes it is a slower demise which seems to be happening to some farming sectors.
There are some farmers who are still making plenty money from what they are doing they are usually at the top of there game but then there are others who are not. This is not necessarily because they are bad farmers but can be due to a wide range of issues, such as land type location wives income living costs children available help on the farm etc. Someone with 40 acres of wet rushy ground and 6 month winters is never going to compete with a farm of 150 acres in the golden vale whether they are getting an ANC payment or not.
It is really horses for courses and everyone has to think about what is best for their own situation but as albert Einstein put it the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If something is not working then maybe something can be changed or tweaked to make it work better. If not then maybe change the whole system or just give up if you can’t fix it and start something else.
My own situation
In my own situation I wrote an article before about here I am actually so far working out financially better off since I gave up on dairying. I was paying rent every year for an out farm a few miles away extra for drawing silage feeding more ration working 7 days and at the end of some years using the single farm payment to pay all the bills.
I left dairying for numerous reasons but before I sold the cows and for me it seemed like a big enough step I had somewhat of an exit plan in place. I had purchased a farm of mostly mountain and rough grazing ground.
I was able to transfer entitlements I had on leased land to this land and instead of paying rent I used the single farm payment to pay off loan repayments.
I cut down on stock numbers to just cover grants which reduced feeding and silage costs and entered an agreement with another man to contract rear slip cows or heifers for him over the summer months.
I also sourced a job working on a pig farm where I worked for a few years until the farm I purchased was paid off for after that I did a course on digital marketing and affiliate marketing and started to learn more about coding and building websites. I also did some work short time on a goat cheese farm and driving a digger in a recycling farm.
The change from dairying has given me more free time to learn new things and worked out well enough for me so far. I think if I didn’t make the change I might have always be wondering what if and possibly regretted it later on if I never worked outside the farm gate. The farm is not going anywhere if I decide to start dairying again.
My plan is working thus far but here are some other ideas that crossed my mind of ways to earn money from the land
Tourism is worth 9.4 billion to the Irish economy and in the right area could be well worth tapping into. To find the right thing in the right place is key. Even though I am in Kerry which gets it’s fair share of tourists I am a bit away from the main tourist areas being in the east of the county.
If I was living around killarney or dingle I would have given more serous thought to this and there are plenty areas to tap into the tourist industry. I once heard of a guy from Galway who advertised to take tourists on a pub crawl and charged 10 euros a head to show them all the best pubs in galway. During the main summer months he could have 2 or 3 tours a day of up to 15 people.
Supposedly he did not drink himself but had a great social life. If the story is true he had a nice little side earner in the evenings. Although I didn’t give the pup crawl too much consideration myself here are some other ideas I thought about at one time or another.
Pony riding liveries
I have a little of experience with equines and although the Kerry bog ponies are a bit small to ride taking the step to look after larger horses would not be a major change. The same as contract rearing cattle people also keep horses and charge a price for their lodgings.
The added value this has is people are willing to pay more for you to look after their horse than a cow and as a horse needs to be exercised some liveries also do pony trekking where they can use the ponies they are looking after to earn more money by using them for pony trekking with the agreement of the owner.
This could be a lucrative business depending on the area you are in stable costs can be 30 euros a night or up to eighty euros per week per animal. If you had good buildings on the farm that you could convert and nice paths or woods or even a beach.nearby where you could do some pony trekking it might be possible to earn on the double.
Things to consider would be the area you are in and demand for livery and pony trekking and your horsemanship skills and of course how much you like horses.
Contract rearing is basically an agreement with another farmer to transfer and look after some of his stock for a set period. Usually dairy farmers looking for someone to rear replacement heifers but could be dry cows that didn’t go in calf or calves young calves.
The rate of payment per head per day is agreed between both farmers and could be between 1 euro and 1.50 per animal each day. The price agreed in what work is involved some farmers will want target weights met or heifers put in calf by the contract rearer while others will just want the stock back in good condition.
This is a very simple change for someone who is used to keeping cattle and has the sheds and infrastructure already in place. It can work well for both parties for the dairy farmer it reduces his nitrates or allows him to carry more milking cows on his own farm. It also can save some labour for him not having to rent more land and travel there to look at stock every day.
For the contract rearer it will supply stock for EU farm grants with the expense of going to the mart to buy them and they are not as exposed to market prices either as they know what will be coming in each month. They could also have an off farm job as there is not as much work looking after dry stock. At the end of the year there are very little expenses to be paid out unless you are making silage to keep other cattle over the winter.
You might have sheds empty on the farm they could possibly be leased out to bring in some income too. Like the contract rearing some people are looking for somewhere to keep there cattle over the winter. An agreement can be made on who supplies feed and a price per head per day or even let the slatted unit for a set price for a number of months.
If your located near a large town or city yards and sheds have a value as a commercial premises too storage costs can be high and lots of business are looking to rent extra space.
dog play areas
Yes believe it or not people will pay to let there dogs play on your land this is a thriving business in other countries around the world and if you doubt people will spend money on this just look at the price people were paying for dogs before the ads were taken down from done deal website this year.
A lot of dog owners don’t have their own land and will gladly pay a small fee for somewhere safe they can let their pets run free. Doggy day care is one good example but they are also in the UK US and many other countries.
If you are based near a big town or city and like dogs it could be an option. It is something that you could expand out too with dog grooming services, boarding kennels, coffee shop and gift store etc.
Wind farms have sprung up all across the country over the last 20 years but we still have a long way to go in meeting our climate targets.
Wind turbines need to be on a suitable site with high enough average wind speed and in an area that is preferred by the planing authority. There is a lot of objections and opposition to wind farms and I feel they are something people either love or hate.
If you can make a deal with a wind farm development company they will be looking for you to sign a lease option agreement for a period of 5 years. I feel farmers should ask for some payment for this as they are tying their land up in this agreement for a number of years even if no effort is made to measure wind speed or secure planning.
I have heard tales of some companies getting lease options signed just to secure land in case they might need it in future and keep other wind farm companies from getting access to the sites or even selling the lease on to other companies. The planning stage can be long and complicated and there is now a push to move wind farms off shore.
I had my own farm in for planning at one stage but it was refused for visual impact. We have another farm surrounded by wind turbines and might be suitable for a few more if any wind developers want to get in touch I would be willing to talk.
If your site does pass the planning stages and the development goes ahead you could expect to get 3% of the value of the electricity produced per turbine on your land each year. This will depend on the size of the wind turbine for example the amount of megawatts the turbine is and the wind speed in a given year. A rough estimate might be 15 to 20 thousand per turbine on your land per year.
Solar electricity is getting cheaper to produce over the last number of years and is now at the stage where solar farms are becoming more viable. While there are very good rents on offer there are also tax implications involved and you would be advised to discuss this with your accountant.
It might impact on agriculture relief and inheritance tax as it’s not considered activity it may also impact on farm payments and you could have a big tax bill every year.
It could still be worth looking into if you can get past the planning stage. Like the wind farms you would need to get in contact with a solar farm development company and take it from there. If they think your site is suitable you will be asked to sign a lease option agreement for a number of years while they attempt secure planning permission.
Forestry is a good option for the right farmer in the right location. There are many things to consider before deciding to plant your land because once it is planted it is gone as farmland. If you have enough of farming animals and would like to grow timber instead there are good forestry premium grants on offer.
The afforestation grant will cover the cost of planting the trees and there are a number of different options for trees planted with premiums ranging up to 615 euros per hectare per year for 15 years.
There is an agro forestry option as a kind of half-way house that allows you to plant trees in rows further apart and graze your animals under the trees. The premiums for agro forestry are 260 per hectare but only last for 5 years.
There is even a native woodland scheme for establishing and looking after native woodland. Things to consider before planting would be farm succession do you have children who would be interested in farming land would leasing the farm be a better option for you. With growing objections to planting and felling licenses will it be a good option in 20 years time.
I think it might still be a good option for a farmer in the right location a farmer with no dependents to take over the running of the farm could have and easier life than chasing around after animals in his old age and premiums won’t affect other farm payments either as it is still considered a farming activity. It is just you are growing timber instead of other crops like grass.
open farm or pet farm
Again in the right location an open farm or pet farm could do well. If you are in a tourist location or near a big town or city and you think you will have the footfall in the area why not. You will be still feeding and looking after animals just a smaller number and a bigger range of animals.
It doesn’t need to be exotic animals either a few calves, goats, pigs,ponies, ducks or lamas could be enough to bring families out-of-town looking for something to do on their days off.
There would be some start up costs with paths, penning fencing or a cafe shop etc. but still something to consider in the right area.
Short for air bed and breakfast it is growing at a phenomenal rate over the last number of years and is where someone can rent a house or apartment or even a bedroom for a night or a week.
Not all people are bothered about having breakfast severed to them each morning and just want a private place to stay for the night or a base for their holidays.
If you had an old farmhouse or cottage worth fixing up in the right location it could bring in up to 100 euros per night in the right location. Look at the airbnb website at what other self-catering properties in your area are asking.
You can earn more than long term rental accommodation and inspect the property whenever you want after every stay.
Snail farming is a relatively new type of farming in this country but a profitable one for those who get it right. You don’t need much ground just one acre could net a profit of 20,000 euros.
Over 40 farms are now producing Escargot snails here for export to France. That being said it’s not easy money either it’s a full time job and training effort and expertise will be required.
If you have the land spare and want something new to keep you busy it could be worth looking into but do your homework first, I have seen many new farming ideas over the years from keeping ostrich to deer only for enough people to jump on the band wagon and realize that their is not enough market demand or an over supply in the market.
If you are interested growing things putting up some poly tunnels and growing some food. That could be strawberries, blueberries mushrooms or any other type of food that can be grown from plants or trees. It is a very wide subject much like agriculture and you would most likely specialize in a certain area.
It can also be very competitive with tight margins and strong competition from other countries like Holland or Spain. You don’t need a lot of land but it would be advisable to do a course and work in this field before starting into it yourself.
What’s the best option to make money from land
Like I said earlier it’s horses for courses it all depends on you and what your interests are and how much risk you are willing to take. Most start up business fail within the first 5 years but if you have a strong interest and learn about the area and the market demand you have a good a chance as anyone else.
There are many other ideas like someone turned an old quarry outside ballyhass near mallow in cork into an adventure center and aqua park.
For me I stuck with cattle and contract rearing as I know a fair bit about them I had the infrastructure already in place and It gave me time for an off farm job or to learn how to make an income online for others it might be different. I could just as easily gone for many other options on this list.
There’s an old saying there is more than one way to skin a cat not sure where that first came from but I think it means if something is not working try another way. If you have the land it is a valuable asset and it’s up to you to try to work smarter and try to find what works best for you.
What works for one person might not work for another it doesn’t matter if they are you neighbor or family a member every ones situation is different.
I just wrote a few ideas that crossed my mind in the past to put others thinking what might work best for them. Many other are doing well and quite happy at what they are doing but there are always options. You only have one life live it your way.