I posted this in the veggie forum, but thought y'all might have something to say about it. I'm looking at getting a little bitty farm that's in the midst of cotton country and wondered what this might have done to the soil. I plan to take samples and have the soil tested before I get really serious, but is there something, anything I should look out for? This piece has been idle for a few years.
I would think that any additives such as pesticides and fertilizer had leached out at least to a depth more than you'd normally plant in. If you can scout around the area to see how well similar land is growing crops then you know you would have something of reasonable quality to work with. You might talk to a local well driller if there isn't one already on the property. They get to know the area and have a good idea of water depth and quality. Any elderly neighbors might be able to give you more history.
Yeah, I figured talking with the neighbors would be a good thing. Farmerdill answered on the veggie forum that the only problem would be depletion, and I'll be able to tell that if there are no weeds growing. I'm going to check it out in about a week. thanks!
Bio-Remediation can be a problem, so look into it carefully. Be sure and do a test for arsenic, as an arsenic-based defoliant was used on cotton for the purpose of defoliation (to make picking easier) from the early 1920ís to the early 1990ís.
A couple of other things to consider is whether the land has a history of being planting with GE cotton. The GE crops now have a well documented track record of killing the soil microbes. You may need many applications of EM, compost tea or other microbial innoculants to over come the GE crop residues.
Although you mentioned testing the soil, I'd also have the water supply tested as well.
Hopefully you have already verified that you have the right to pump water from your well or harvest rainwater off your roofs. DH and I were looking at some property in a nearby county that was considered "horse property". We had planned an extensive veggie garden/mini-farm, which is what the area used to be before the developers created the mini-ranches. Apparently the developers sold off a lot of the water rights in exchange for the building permits. A certain number of horses, and limited fruit and nut trees were allowed on drip, but vegetable gardens (and any type of irrigated pasture) were prohibited - "they take too much water". We asked about a cistern and were told "it's not your rain. The rain and surface runoff belong to the acquifer. The acquifer belongs to X."
Well, it's no longer an issue anyway. Went to see the "house" that needs "some TLC."
Oh, my Lord!!!!!
The original tract had been divided into three tracts. This one, that had the house, was about 60 ft. wide, and 3 1/2 acres straight back. The well was on another tract!!! They had rigged a cistern to the gutter and a hose at the bottom of the cistern led back into the house. The house had been vandalized and there was about a 6 inch layer of insulation everywhere. They had not moved out furniture or personal items. The defunct Buick was still in the driveway. It would have cost more to remediate just the house than the land could have been worth.
THEN -- after we got back to the road, the realtor (who had still not stopped apologizing because she had taken the owner's word for some things) and I stood in the road picking fleas off each other longer than we had looked at the property.
I know people are going to minimize the bad and exaggerate the good when they're trying to sell property. But do they not think a potential buyer might actually go out and take a look? WHAT A WASTE OF A MORNING!!!!!