What State Has the Best Soil for Farming?

Framers searching for soil land for farming.

“Farmers are the founders of human civilizations,” according to Daniel Webster, and I would readily agree with him because most ancient civilizations began in places where soils were fertile and best for farming. Societies, likewise, started when humans stopped wandering and began settling in areas that offered excellent soil for farming. 

Farming requires excellent soil quality. So, if you live in the United States, for example, and want to make a pivot to farming, you might as well learn about the states wherein the soils are best for agriculture. There, you purchase land and start your dream farm.

Different Types of Soil You Must Know As A Farmer

When prospecting for the land you want to convert into a farm, you should select land with excellent soil for farming. It will also help if you know the different soil types appropriate for the products you would like to plant. Below are the different types of soils:

Sandy Soil

Soil is the earth’s top surface layer consisting of mulch, rock, inorganic, and organic materials. One such type is sandy soil, considered the least regarding nutrient contents. Besides, it is the least capable of holding water. The sandy soil originates from the fragments of rocks due to many factors like erosion.

Silt Soil

Silt soil consists of mineral particles and fragmented rocks. It is halfway between the sandy and clay soil regarding its particle size. Of course, it is smoother than sandy soil and can hold water way better than sandy soil. 

Clay Soil 

Clay soil consists of the smallest particles compared to silt and sandy soils. It also exhibits the densest form and cannot drain water well.

Loamy Soil 

Loam soil is made of silt, sand, and a small amount of clay, retaining the best properties of each type of soil. It is the best soil type for agriculture. 

States in the United States with Best Soil for Farming

The United States is a huge country consisting of fifty states, forty-eight of which are contiguous. Among the states with the most productive and fertile soils are the following:

1) California

Many researchers consider California’s central valley as the area with the best soil for agriculture. They concur with this consideration because the area exhibits an alluvial deposition from San Joaquin, Sacramento, and other rivers. This area stretches around five hundred miles and is approximately forty to sixty miles wide. 

Of course, it is a lowland region, extending from the Cascade Mountains up to the Tehachapi Mountains, and gets hemmed in by the Sierra Nevada and Coast Ranges.

Throughout the region, you will find alluvial sediments deposited over the millennia. These alluvial deposits make the area highly fertile, making it valuable for subsistence farming. Besides, the region is the most prolific and productive for producing crops. The site has cultivated around 230 crops throughout the years.

The climate in the area is conducive to year-round farming, making California one of the most productive states regarding agricultural crop production. The state alone produces around 200 crops or more. Some of these crops get exclusively produced in the state.

These crops include figs, almonds, apricots, walnuts, dates, prunes, pistachios, and olives. The state is also a leading producer of grapes, wheat, strawberries, lemons, avocadoes, melons, oranges, peaches, and plums.

It is also a leading producer of lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and broccoli. It also leads in the production of celery, asparagus, garlic, cauliflower, onions, mushrooms, and peppers, making the average price of farmland in California a bit higher at $5,000 to $12,000 per acre in the previous year.

Over the last century, agriculture in the state has also shown a remarkable flourishing, netting around $54 billion per year. San Joaquin Valley alone grossed around $39 billion in agricultural production in 2014. The Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys yield billions of dollars in production annually, making this area one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world.

In 2017, you will find around 77,100 unique ranches and farms in the state. The average size of farms in the state is around 328 acres. 

California has a naturally arid climate, so the land should get adequately irrigated. Thus, around forty percent of water consumption in the state goes to the agricultural sector. 

California produces around eighty percent of the world’s almonds and approximately ninety percent of avocadoes grown in the U.S.

2) Iowa

Another state with fertile soils is Iowa. It has some of the most productive soils in the country and the world. Around 90% of the state gets utilized for agriculture. Besides, it ranks second in agricultural production in the United States. 

The soils of Iowa get referred to as the Tama Soils, which you can find in around twenty-eight counties of the state. Silt and wind-blown particles make up these soils, resulting in the kind of soil called loess. These soils are clayish, silty, and loamy in texture. Tama soils are also affected and influenced by the prairie grasslands.

These soils are highly productive and fertile. Yet, erosion is also a significant problem due to flowing water. For this reason, farmers in Iowa engage in soil management and conservation practices to ensure the fertility of the soils. 

Besides, no-till farming is increasingly becoming acceptable and popular among the region’s farmers. Such an approach helps keep and improve soil fertility while reducing erosion.

As an agricultural center, the state ranks as the largest producer of corn in the Corn Belt, and in 2018 alone, it has cultivated corn amounting to around $8.7 billion. It also ranks as a leading soybean producer. 

Iowa has around 220 farmer markets, providing citizens access to locally produced fresh crops. The state also produces hay, oats, flaxseed, red clover, wheat, and rye. Besides, it cultivates cucumbers, cabbages, onions, green beans, sweet corn, and potatoes.

3) New Mexico

New Mexico has been an agricultural state even during the pre-Columbian era. Native Indians have already been cultivating corn, beans, and squash in the area and grew these crops on every square foot of the soil. Hence, these three crops got referred to as the Three Sisters

New Mexico is the third largest producer of pecans, chili, onions, hay, cotton, and corn. It is also the biggest producer of chili pepper. Besides, native Americans also run 24% of the state’s farms and ranches. Another thing is that New Mexico ranks in livestock and dairy products.

Although the state has a desert climate because of the low precipitation, it still boasts of abundant sun and wind. However, it requires irrigation for agriculture to flourish.

The state has seven life zones and four regions with a diverse geography. Each region also harbors different animal species and plants.

The good thing about New Mexico is that the land price in the state is relatively lower compared to other states. Its state soil is called Penistaja soil, a word derived from the Navajo language, meaning forced to sit.

The Penistaja soil is ideal for livestock grazing and local agriculture. It is a type of soil formed in semi-arid and arid climates. Moreover, this soil belongs to the “aridisols,” a soil type that requires irrigation. 

In 2019, the total agricultural production value of New Mexico amounted to $3.44 billion. The sales of milk were at $1.38 billion, and the state leads in producing chile and pecans. 

The livestock production value of the state amounted to $2.43 billion, while the hay production was around $211 million. New Mexico also has approximately 81 farmer markets.

4) New York 

New York has around seven million acres of arable land. Of course, New York State is different from the New York City. It has a thriving agricultural industry worth $3.6 billion. Its revenue from agriculture industry is around $5.75 billion in the year 2017 alone.

New York is a leading producer of apples, cottage cheese, milk, grapes, cabbages, wine, maple syrup, and cauliflower. Besides, a quarter of the land area of New York state are used for agriculture. 

In the USDA census in 2017, New York State had around 33,438 farms with 6,866,171 acres of land in production. The farming industry employs approximately 55,363 people, and about 26,000 jobs got employed in milk and dairy production. Oilseed and grain employed around 15,500 people, while melon and veggie farming accounted for 7,750 jobs. 

Approximately 98% of farmlands are family-owned, and the average farm size in the state is 205 acres. New York ranks first in sour cream, yogurt, and cottage cheese production; second in the production of apples, maple syrup, snap peas, and cabbage; and third in the production of milk, dairy cows, Italian cheese, and grapes.

The state soil of New York is the Honeoye Soil, used for cultivating crops like soy, corn, wheat, alfalfa, oats, hay, orchards, and grapes. Honeoye soil is well-drained and deep with vestiges of shale and limestone. It is one of the most valuable natural assets of New York. 

5) Vermont

Vermont is another state which has suitable soil varieties. However, its official state soil gets referred to as Tunbridge soil which is quite acidic and loamy. This soil has been formed by melting and moving glaciers. Likewise, you will find large particles of sand in this loamy soil, which helps drain the water and aerate the soil. 

Its small silt particles enable the ground to retain its nutrients and water. This loamy soil also contains clay which helps retain moisture. Around 250 farmer’s markets in this state cater to approximately 630,000 people. 

Vermont, of course, is a significant state regarding farming investments, infrastructure, and ecological protection. The average price of land in Vermont per acre is $2,900.

Vermont contributes around 2.2% of the state’s domestic product, and about three percent of the population engages in agriculture. Vermont has hilly terrain that makes it perfect for livestock and hay cultivation. 

The state ranks as the largest producer of hay in the region. It produces agricultural products like honey, corn, apples, and maple syrup.

Conclusion

Aside from the abovementioned states, there are also other states with thriving agricultural industries. These states also offer the best places for starting a farm. Among these states are North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. On the other end of the spectrum are the states of Maine, Connecticut, and Alaska, ranked lowest when it comes to enticing would-be farmers to start their ranch or farm. 

States like Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas offer cheaper land to farm. These states also have an excellent growing climate with highly developed infrastructure for rural residents and farmers. The deep south, likewise, including Alabama and Louisiana, are in the middle of the list, though both states fare well too regarding the agricultural industry. 

Investing in farms is lucrative, with the Department of Agriculture expecting better net income from agriculture in the coming years. Farmers also have better opportunities to expand their business in the coming years with better innovations in farming techniques. 

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