The number of acres needed depends on where you farm, "I" state corn and bean country or North Dakota Prairie dryland farming.
Your thoughts on how many acres makes a viable farm, reminds me of a story my grandfather told me.
My grandfather came to ND with his same age young 18 year old wife in 1906. His boss in Iowa bought some cheap ND farm land from the railroad as an investment and sent this young couple to manage the ND farm. They built the farm and raised crops sutible to the ND growing season and climate. After a few years, grand dads boss in Iowa was upset about the lower yields / income he was getting from his ND farm. He sent his Iowa born and raised son to ND to take over the farm and show grand dad how it is done. After 3 years of doing no better than grand dad, the Iowa son has to admit that he could do no better and quietly went back to Iowa with Grandpa back in charge of the ND farm.
Grandpa had no more meddling in the farm operation up to the time he bought the land from the Iowa owner in 1948.
Our input costs are the same as the I states, yet 125 BU corn is a great crop, and 40 bu soybeans are considered a bumper crop. 50 BPA wheat is considered a bumper crop, so I think we know how to manage with very small margins. That is why a 2000 acre farmer like me, struggles along with mostly old iron in the 20-30 year old range and it takes 6-10,000 acres to pay for the newer iron that does as much in a day as I can do in a week with my 30 year old combine. I chose to remain a small farm operation and spent the shop time to keep old iron reliable and working. I just retired, debt free, own my equipment and land, with enough for a comfortable retirement, but I am not blind to the capacity and efficiency of my neighbors who farm big with near new equipment.
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