People can often determine the soil present on the ground by a simple visual inspection. They may need to obtain soil samples from a few feet down to see how they can establish a foundation. Land buyers may encounter soils like:
Experts often prefer loam for building/new construction, because it contains a combination of soils that are less likely to expand or erode. If people discover that the soil is sitting on a solid and fairly level bedrock, they may have the best arrangement.
Homesteaders must buy Alaska land that is already fairly level, or plan to excavate it properly before they put in the foundation. Properties with a notable slope may pose concerns about soil erosion and water flow. People should confirm that the ground below the foundation is unlikely to shift with changes in the water table. This will help to guarantee a solid construction that will last for many years.
Although people will usually have a number of options for growing crops on almost any kind of soil, the type will alter how they approach the growing season. Some soils, like clay, are hard to till, take a long time to change temperature in the spring, and do not drain very effectively. Because of its high moisture content and heavy texture, clay is often better for summer crops than spring vegetables and fruits.
Drier soils like sand or gravel will drain well, but tend to lose moisture and nutrients quickly. Because they are minimally compacted, they will change temperature rapidly in the spring. Root vegetables and spring plants may be an ideal choice for sand. Peat soil, which is soft and damp, offers similar options for growers. Loam, which is often a combination of sand, silt, and peat, provides a balance between the two extremes. All of these soil types may need replenishment of nutrients through composting or other means.
Most people can identify the type of soil on a portion of land by looking at it and watching it absorb water. Clay is sticky when wet, and may feel like a brick when dry. Moisture-rich soils like peat could feel spongy to the touch. These soils need additional drainage to avoid over-saturating the crops with water. Sand feels dry and gritty, and chalk usually looks like small rocks. Land buyers may want to research the type of soil on the property to learn more about its maintenance needs.
Building a homestead that can allow livestock to grow and thrive requires enough space to support them, and, in most cases, soil that is ideal for grazing. As a general rule, people should keep in mind that the larger the animal, the bigger the space needed. Fowl such as chickens and ducks may require the least amount of space — as little as four square feet per bird for shelter. Rabbits are also a viable option for meat that demands only a small area. Although these animals are considered ideal choices for people just starting out, they also need protection. Homeowners need to build a fence to keep them in and predators from gaining access.
People should also consider how much land they will need to grow food for the livestock they intend to keep. Fowl, rabbits, and goats may be able to eat almost anything already on the property. When allowed to graze free-range, goats can help to clear out brush near the home. By comparison, pigs, sheep, and cows may need much more. For example, experts suggest that homesteaders provide at least one acre of grazing land per cow.
Proper testing can determine if the soil will support the grasses that most livestock need to survive. As a general rule, the grasses ideal for cows need soil that is a little more acidic. People can use natural components like lime or fertilizer to change the soil acidity. Keeping the soil at the right pH, properly watered, and covered will promote greater output.
Analyzing Off Grid Properties Guide