Beginners guide to farming

Hi Everyone

I moved to France in december last year and my french is improving however I seem to be stuck in finding more information to pursue my field. I am working as a freelance geologist, providing farmers with advice. I do soil analysis, and based on the soil type I offer farmers/gardner's advice on what type of crops they can grow, how to improve their soil type. I provide a simple, (that is not too overly scientific) report including topographical/geological blueprint of the farm so that farmers can understand the soil better. Water and microbiological analysis or a more detailed scientific report can be done if requested.

Right now my money is running low, even though i dont charge a high fee, I really need to find work soon. I am searching the net but not finding where i could advertise, so anyone with advice or help, please reply to this post. I am living in the south of 40 near Dax, however I do travel to farms up to a max of 5hours from my home. Where do I start?

thanking you kindly for your time in reading this post.



Hi Paris, before reading the others' comments, I too, was thinking that most farmers today don't go for soil sampling, and instead choose to pour copoius amounts of generalised fertilizer or lime over their plants.

I also think that going freelance might hinder you. Is it possible to find work with say, wheat breeders, or a big ag-company? Yes, you lose your freedom, but you might end up with a contract making it very worthwhile. as much as I'm against big-ag, if it is your only hope of finding work till you find your niche, it is perhaps your best option.

Is there a chamber of agriculture in your area? I know for many things we have to go to ours. There are notice boards in there, and we often see anything from people offering to brush cut large areas, to cow milkers, to people selling machinery up there.

Sadly, nobody posts saying they have terrain they would like someone to put bees on :(

Paris, sorry I am also somewhat pessimistic. Certainly the local Chamber of Agriculture 'Should' help, but from my experience in Gironde do not count on it.

Good specialist advice is already available for those that want it, and there are many that do not. I live surrounded by land that is not touched, except to cut hay. Beside our kennels we keep a small flock of sheep. My 2.8 hectares has wire boundary fences, and no trees; little shelter for sheep. I have started to plant hedges and some trees for wind breaKs. I have an 80% grant, free advice and soil analysis, plus support and advice for three years. My total outlay was around 300 euros. Just one example of what you may be up against.

One thought, try posting on a website called 'PIGS IN FRANCE', there may be a need for your services among ex pat smallholders and farmers.

Best of luck: Alan

I am not living in France but do understand farming communities and they are a tight nit bunch who all know who and what is happening in their regions. If it was me, I would first start with the agri outlets and get to know the desk who will know who is where and what they are doing. If you can make a friend of the retailer it may be possible to set up an informal talk or a visit with one of the main players and if need be offer a mini free service so they can see what their money will buy and how you operate etc. From there word of mouth should bring you business. I do think it may be harder if you are not fluent in the language or terminology and if you are, perhaps a face book page with update statuses and links to interesting soil/product articles/lastest research etc reminds would be clients where you are and how to get hold of you. Get onto the farming forums in France and see where there is a need. The agri retailer might even have a site or monthly letter that goes out and of course working with them will ensure they do more sales.

An article in connection with a sucess story of a project you have completed and the benefits it has yielded in any publication that farmers may read can't hurt either. Don't forget about the expat community that are wanting to start small scale farming and may need an advice service?

Like everything else in France, it's who you know and how they can promote you that counts......good luck......


I would think that you can provide a valuable service certainly where crops have been failing etc with the loss of income the farmers would have .

I would have thought if you have a local or regional newspaper/s then search in those for the reporters for your region , its best if you phone them for a personal approach and they may do a feature on you which may be free if its a local newspaper.Or you could write the article and provide a photo of yourself then if they like it ( its less work for them ) they may publish although I'm sure they would normally come and see you . I will ask a french farmer friend of mine if she knows of other publications you could use

good luck

I think the best place to start is at your nearest Chambres d'agriculture. I would pop along and explain what you do etc and they will then help you out or point you in the right direction.

As said before a lot of farmers may not have internet. A newspaper that you could advertise in is Paysan Breton not sure if this just covers brittany, if so i am sure you can find other newspapers to advertise in. Why not even put an announce on Le BonCoin or other sites. Your local gamme vert, cooperatives ....

You could go round to the farmers but i am not sure what reponse you would get from them. A lot of older french framers prefer to be left alone, they have been doing what they do for a long time and do not like change. You never know you could be surpised.

My French partners started to rent is fields because he wasnt making much money from them and he was using his salary (he works full time as well as the farm) to pay for the farm side of things. If he had knowing that there was someone who does your job i am sure he would have continued.

Keep Trying and get advertising everywhere!

Good Luck

Kim, I was not wishing to be insulting either. You are doing very well clearly, many farmers are not. Particularly in this part of Aquitaine. I know they work hard, but Paris's choice of area is not the best, knowing the area well and also knowing other areas are thriving.

I wish him luck and he will need a lot of it. The research, I agree with you there.

Hi Kim,

Please accept my apologies - I wasn't aiming to be insulting or negative in any way. I was raised on a farm and am well aware of how hard it is to make a living and how much there is to do, hence the if it ain't broke don't fix it comment.

What I meant by it was that there is already (in my opinion) more than enough to worry about without going looking for more work to do. Time management was always very important to the people I grew up with as there was simply so much to get done all the time.

I also agree that advance research is essential when moving to another country.


Hi Paris,

I agree with Brian. There is very much a live and leave well enough alone attitude among French farmers. A bit like "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

However the reason I am replying is that I am happy to help you with the translation, if you want to email an add across I can look at it this week. I also agree that you would have more luck getting something printed and marketing yourself in person. There are farmers that I know of in St Pé de Bigorre who don't even own a computer, never mind use the Internet!

Paris, wow. Living amongst farmers who do very little to improve anything with the exception of dairy farmers, I wonder whether the chance you took moving to France is the best move you have ever made. There are modern farmers, but essentially Aquitaine has largely a small scale agriculture. Even when tobacco was far more widespread it was mainly in half hectare fields and even smaller, now with maize and sunflowers none of them appear to worry too much about soil quality. I think you ought to get somebody to help you write a notice in good French, take it to as many mairies as you can and get it on notice boards. Local people do look at them. As for websites and their like, well in this part of the Dordogne within about three hours from where you are, very very few farmers are online. Many are too old to care about the technology and the younger ones struggling too much to afford it. I am not in your line of work but my own has taught me how to look at human beings very closely and rather than filling you with platitudes, I thought you ought to hearm (see) it as it is so that you have a chance before you are past the point of no return.