A Yield Farming Analogy

By  Beluga Research September 27, 2023

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  • "Yield farming" is an activity exclusive to the cryptocurrency world
  • There are some parallels to traditional farming that can help explain this concept
  • Popular yield farming platforms include Compound, Aave and Uniswap, among others
  • There is opportunity with yield farming, but there are also risks to be aware of

"Yield farming" is a popular concept in the world of decentralized finance (DeFi) and has revolutionized the way people can earn returns on cryptocurrency holdings. Similar to traditional farming, yield farming involves cultivating and harvesting assets. The difference is that all of this is done within the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

A Farming Analogy

To understand yield farming, it may be helpful for users to imagine owning a piece of farmland, but instead of growing traditional crops, planting different types of crypto crops that yield varying profits.

Yield farming, in essence, involves depositing or lending cryptocurrencies. This crypto goes to various platforms, protocols or liquidity pools in the DeFi space. These platforms utilize the deposited assets to facilitate various financial activities such as lending, trading or providing liquidity to decentralized exchanges (DEX).

In this real-world farming analogy, deposited cryptocurrency represents the seeds that are sown on the farmland, while the crops represent different DeFi protocols or platforms. Each crop or protocol has a unique set of rules and mechanisms for generating returns.

The Greenhouse

Another helpful analogy could be a greenhouse where different plants are grown and each plant requires specific care and provides a different yield. Yield farming is similar to managing a greenhouse efficiently to maximize an overall harvest.

The DeFi ecosystem for Ethereum. Source: Race Capital

Here, plants in the greenhouse can represent different DeFi protocols or platforms in the crypto world. Just like plants, each protocol has unique characteristics and potential returns. Some plants may require more attention, such as special watering schedules or more high-maintenance pruning, but they also yield higher-quality produce. These plants represent DeFi protocols that offer higher returns, but they may require more active participation or carry higher risks.

On the other hand, there are also often low-maintenance plants in a greenhouse. These plants do not require as much attention, but they offer more stable and predictable yields. These plants represent DeFi protocols with lower returns but less involvement or risk.

How Farmers Optimize

Yield farmers strategically allocate time, resources and risk tolerance across different protocols, much like a traditional farmer with plants. They do this to optimize the overall returns, the way farmers prepare for harvests. Further, similar to dividing greenhouse space, many yield farmers divide space between high-risk, high-reward protocols and low-risk, stable-yield protocols based on preferences and goals.

When considering the greenhouse analogy further, it may be helpful for users to think of monitoring and adjusting the conditions within the structure. Yield farmers do the same thing while keeping track of each DeFi protocol's performance. They adjust allocations and stay informed about potential risks or new opportunities in the DeFi space. By effectively managing a "crypto greenhouse" and making informed decisions, it is possible to cultivate a fruitful yield farming experience and ultimately "harvest" crypto rewards.

The DeFi ecosystem for Solana. Source: Race Capital

However, it is important for users to remember, as with any agricultural endeavor, that yield farming involves risks and uncertainties. Thus, it is essential to be educated, diversify strategies and approach endeavors with caution, just like a skilled gardener navigating the challenges and rewards of tending to a diverse array of plants.

Types of Yield Farming

Returns in yield farming can vary significantly and are based on various factors, including the specific protocols, market conditions and level of risk involved. It is important to note that yield farming can offer attractive returns but it also carries risks that can affect profitability.

In yield farming, returns are typically generated through several mechanisms:

  1. Interest Rates . Some protocols offer lending and borrowing functionalities. This is where users can provide assets as collateral and earn interest on deposited funds. The interest rates can vary depending on the demand and supply dynamics within the protocol.
  2. Liquidity Mining . Many protocols incentivize users to provide liquidity by offering rewards in the form of additional crypto. These rewards are often a portion of the trading fees generated on the platform. The returns from liquidity mining can be influenced by factors such as trading volumes and the protocol's token price.
  3. Staking . Some protocols allow users to stake crypto, contributing to the network's security and governance. In return, stakers earn additional cryptocurrency or other rewards. The returns from staking can be influenced by several factors, including the token's value, network participation and staking duration.
  1. Compound . This is a lending and borrowing platform where users can supply assets to earn interest or borrow against holdings.
  2. Aave . This is a decentralized lending platform that allows users to deposit cryptocurrencies and earn interest while maintaining control of funds.
  3. Uniswap . This is a DEX where users can provide liquidity to specific trading pairs and earn fees from trades.

Risk But Also Reward

Yield farming is a method of growing crypto holdings by engaging with DeFi protocols. By depositing cryptocurrencies into various platforms and liquidity pools, attractive returns can be earned. However, it is important to recognize the associated risks, including market volatility and potential smart contract vulnerabilities.

Conducting thorough research and understanding the protocols with which cryptocurrency users engage is essential, but with careful consideration and due diligence, yield farming can be an exciting avenue for earning returns in the very dynamic world of DeFi.


  • High Potential Returns . Yield farming can offer significantly higher returns compared to traditional financial instruments. The decentralized nature of DeFi protocols allows for competitive interest rates, liquidity mining rewards or trading fees.
  • Diversification . Yield farming allows for the diversification of cryptocurrency holdings by allocation across different protocols. Diversification can minimize risks by spreading investments across multiple projects and strategies.
  • Flexibility and Accessibility. Yield farming is relatively accessible, as it allows anyone with an internet connection and cryptocurrency holdings to participate. Users can choose from a wide range of DeFi platforms and protocols to find the ones that best suit specific risk appetites and investment goals.


  • Higher Risk . The potential for higher returns comes with increased risk. DeFi protocols may have vulnerabilities, smart contract risks or potential market volatility. This can lead to losses or even the loss of deposited funds.
  • Complexity . Yield farming requires a good understanding of different protocols, liquidity pools and risks. It can be a complex space for newcomers, and thorough research is essential to mitigate potential pitfalls.
  • Impermanent Loss . When providing liquidity for DEX platforms, there is a risk of experiencing impermanent loss. This occurs when the relative value of the deposited assets changes during the liquidity provision period, and can result in potential losses compared to simply holding the assets.