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Clearing Land for Farming. How to Do It?

Last Updated: 02.07.22


If you inherited or bought a large piece of land that isn’t perfect for farming yet, our recent post can help you clear the air and learn everything you need to know about how to turn the land into the right one for your business. 

Keep in mind that, depending on the total surface, clearing land can be a time-consuming job that might even cause delays to your future farming or construction projects. However, taking it step by step, you’ll see the end of it with as little interruptions as possible. 


Step 1: Sizing up your project

Before thinking about changing the destination of your land, you first need to know exactly what you rented, purchased, or inherited. 

Do a full analysis on the type of soil and the total surface of the terrain. Inspect it carefully to see if there is anything that would make the clearing process difficult such as large trees, steep hillsides, creeks, rocks or sand portions, and others. 

If you lack the time, tools, or knowledge for the first part of your project, you’ll want to hire a contractor or an assessing company. At this point, you have two options – you either work with a professional contractor who will clear the terrain for you or hire people to take care of the most challenging parts of the process, while you do the rest. 

For instance, you might be qualified to clear small fallen trees or bushes but you might require the help of a logging company or arborist for trees that are still standing and large bushes. 

If you think this was the most time-consuming part of the process, prepare yourself as the next step requires to make everything legal. Depending on where you live, you might need a permit to change the usage destination of your land and look for any potential problems such as protected vegetation or animals, concerns about soil erosion, and others. 

A contractor could come in handy in times like these as the company can handle the legal aspects for you and obtain any necessary permits for the clearing process.

The next step of the first phase is to establish a detailed budget and stick to it, as much as you can. Keep in mind that some contractors might work on fixed prices per square foot so, if you have a large plot, costs can get astronomical. 

On the other hand, large parcels allow you to negotiate with contractors either a fixed price for the entire job or a significantly lower price per square foot. 

If you plan on doing the project on your own, you still have to take into account the costs of running and maintaining your equipment. Don’t forget about any other necessary tools or supplies, removing debris, and potential additional help from hired workers. 

The best way to get a fair price of the project is to ask a contractor for an estimate. Consider another 10-15% for additional or unforeseen costs and you’re looking at an accurate estimate at how much you will have to pay for clearing your land for farming. Make sure to get quotes or estimates from at least two-three different contractors in the area to pick the most suitable option for you. 


Step 2: Clearing the land

Assuming you want to do everything on your own, after estimating the size and topography of your land and establishing the budget required, you need to find the best ways to clear the land. 

Start by demolishing any existing structure, including old sheds, buildings, stables, and other establishments. To do so efficiently, you’ll require the help of a bulldozer or any other heavy equipment for quick results. Rent machines by the day and make sure to know how to operate them unless you want to pay their entire market value!

Tearing down structures by hand using nothing but a mix of jackhammers, wrecking bars, and regular hammers will take anywhere between some time and forever, so don’t expect to be profiting off your farming land before retirement. 

Another aspect you need to take into account is the place where you’ll dump the debris. This means that you’ll have to check with local sanitation companies and either hire dumpsters or ask one of them to pick up the mess off your property.

If you’re lucky enough to have a clean piece of land without any pre-existing structures, you can start by removing other traces of debris, including trash, fallen limbs, rocks, sand, and gravel. At this point, you may need to rent other pieces of equipment such as a debris grate. Worst case scenario, you can use an old van or a car with an open trunk but, again, this might take longer. 


Step 3: Get down to it!

Removing any debris from your land will help you make an idea of how wide your property is and what type of crops it would be perfect for growing. However, you still need to make sure there aren’t any troubles with protected vegetation and wild animal habitats. 

Mark and protect the vegetation that can’t be temporarily removed from the premises and maintain a welcoming environment for any wild animals you might find. Use fences and ribbons to delimitate the protected area around the vegetation and continue watering the plants and feeding the animals until further notice.

In some cases, you might have to learn to integrate them into your future farming land while some other times you’ll have to wait for at least a few months until animal protection agencies will find a new home for the creatures living on your land. 

When it comes to trees, you might have to do the trimming yourself, so prepare a saw and other tools to cut rotten branches and remove all debris from the road and your property. You can later use the felled tree for firewood or for creating new structures like wooden fences.

On the same note, you also have to trim vegetation and clear bushes around. Cutting, clipping, and mowing the grass will help you level the soil and remove unwanted weeds, including poison ivy and irritating plants. And, if you’re looking for a more sustainable method, you can buy some animals that will clear the spot for you. 

Grading the land should be your next step. Take into account that you might need to do some leveling by filling up holes, so bring a shovel and some gravel with you for that purpose. If you plan on erecting a new building on that same spot, you might need professional-grade tools to level the land and smooth things out for a strong and reliable foundation. 


Step 4: The farming process

Once you have cleared the land on your property and fixed minor problems, you’ll need to think about the type of farming you want to practice. Will you use the land for planting crops or raising animals? Depending on your answer, you might have to prepare the land even more. 

Growing animals won’t require getting into too much trouble as cattle, sheep, and other herbivorous animals will eat grass and weeds. However, if you want to turn the land into a rich farming lot, you need to prepare it. 

Plowing is the first step in the process but you should avoid plowing steep hills or wetland as it can lead to soil corrosion in time. Instead, let native weed and vegetation grow and cover the area. 

Finally, don’t forget about farming tools and pieces of equipment, as well as the additional people you might need to hire to see the project completed. 

Depending on the size of your land, the entire clearing process might take weeks or even months. If possible, start early in the year so you can start planting seeds or prepare the soil for future crops by spring. Winter is the best season to remove debris, tear down structures, and cut unwanted trees. 



You might think that clearing your land for farming on your own would be cheaper than hiring a contractor but, given everything we stated, are you up for the task? Sometimes, it’s better to ask for help from a professional and avoid renting all the necessary equipment and workforce yourself. 



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