Crypto Yield Farming: Maximizing Returns in the World of DeFi

19 Jul 2023

Crypto yield farming has emerged as a popular investment strategy within the decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem, offering investors the potential for substantial returns. In this article, we cover everything you need to know before considering getting into it and provide an in-depth exploration of yield farming, explaining its basic principles and historical context. We delve into how yield farming works, outlining the rewards and opportunities it presents to investors. Additionally, we examine the three primary types of crypto yield farming: lending, borrowing, and staking. We weigh the pros and cons of this investment strategy and highlight prominent protocols. By the end, you will hopefully gain a comprehensive understanding of crypto yield farming and its potential to generate significant profits.

What are DeFi and Crypto Yield Farming

Decentralized finance, or DeFi, has revolutionized the traditional financial landscape by leveraging blockchain technology to create an open and permissionless financial ecosystem. DeFi protocols enable users to access a range of financial services without intermediaries, offering greater transparency, security, and control over their assets. One of the most exciting aspects of DeFi is yield farming, which allows investors to earn rewards by providing liquidity to various platforms.

Crypto yield farming emerged as an innovative investment strategy within the DeFi space, attracting both experienced crypto enthusiasts and newcomers. It involves generating returns on cryptocurrencies by lending, borrowing, or staking assets on decentralized platforms. Yield farming allows investors to passively earn an income through their crypto holdings, often with significantly higher returns than traditional financial instruments. 

How does yield farming work?

At its core, yield farming relies on the concept of liquidity provision. By contributing personal assets to a liquidity pool, investors help facilitate transactions within the DeFi ecosystem. In return, they receive rewards in the form of additional tokens. These rewards typically come from transaction fees, yield generated by lending and borrowing, or inflationary distributions.

The process of yield farming entails the following steps:

Step 1: Choosing a platform – Investors select a DeFi protocol or platform to participate in yield farming. Popular platforms include Uniswap, Compound, Aave, and Curve Finance.

Step 2: Providing liquidity – Investors contribute their cryptocurrencies to a liquidity pool on the chosen platform. This involves depositing a pair of assets into the pool, typically in equal proportions.

Step 3: Earning rewards – Investors receive tokens as rewards for providing liquidity. These rewards can vary depending on factors such as the platform’s tokenomics, liquidity demand, and participation duration.

Step 4: Maximizing returns – Investors can optimize their yield farming strategies by employing yield optimization protocols, impermanent loss mitigation, and strategic timing for entering or exiting certain liquidity pools.

What’s in it for the investors?

Crypto yield farming offers several enticing rewards for investors. Firstly, investors have the potential to earn attractive annual percentage yields (APY) on their crypto assets, surpassing what is typically offered by traditional financial institutions. The decentralized nature of DeFi platforms also ensures that users have greater control over their investments, eliminating reliance on intermediaries.

Furthermore, yield farming can provide investors with additional tokens or governance rights in the form of platform-specific tokens. These tokens may offer various benefits, such as voting power, fee discounts, or participation in the platform’s decision-making processes. Additionally, some platforms allow investors to participate in liquidity mining programs, where new tokens are minted and distributed to participants. 

The three types of Yield Farming

Yield farming encompasses various strategies, with three prominent types: lending, borrowing, and staking.

Lending: In lending-based yield farming, investors provide their cryptocurrencies to lending platforms, allowing others to borrow these assets. Investors then earn interest on the lent assets. Platforms such as Compound and Aave facilitate lending and borrowing activities, connecting borrowers and lenders through smart contracts. The main risk associated with this scheme is the risk of the borrowers defaulting.

Borrowing: This type of yield farming involves borrowing assets from lending platforms using collateral. Investors can use borrowed assets to participate in other yield farming strategies or for other (entirely unrelated) investment purposes. Borrowing typically incurs interest, which must be paid alongside the return of the borrowed assets. Suppose the interest paid back is relatively low (which, in the case of borrowing through crypto lending platforms, is likely to be true). In that case, it can be eclipsed by the returns one achieves by investing elsewhere the capital obtained through such an arrangement, thus closing out both ends and pocketing a profit. This is critically dependent on the external risk of unfavorable investment outcomes. Hence it’s highly advisable to place the borrowed capital in a very low-risk investment (as much as possible), such as Gold & Precious Metals, Fixed Annuity Contracts, Securities, Bills, Notes and Bonds, as well as Money Market Mutual Funds and Certificates of Deposit (time deposit accounts allow you to invest your money at a fixed rate for a fixed period of time). 

Staking: Staking is another popular form of yield farming where investors lock their tokens in a smart contract for a specified period. By doing so, they contribute to the security and operation of the underlying blockchain network. In return, stakers receive rewards, typically through additional tokens or a share of transaction fees. Staking is prevalent in Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchains and platforms like Ethereum 2.0, Cardano, and Polkadot. Theoretically, staking is least dependent on external risks or factors outside the scheme.

Pros and Cons

As with any investment strategy, crypto yield farming has advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore…


1. Higher potential returns: Yield farming can offer significantly higher returns compared to traditional investment avenues. Investing in a yield farm could reward you with high interest rates. A yield farm could potentially earn you returns over 100% APY. Still, keep in mind that that’s not always the case. However, even lower returns are still quite profitable.

2. Accessible to all: Crypto yield farming provides opportunities for anyone with internet access and crypto assets, removing barriers to entry.

3. Flexibility and control: Investors have the freedom to choose the platforms and strategies that align with their risk appetite and investment goals. Maintaining custody of lucrative assets is one of the most prolific advantages, as yield farming allows you to keep all invested assets in your custody. Even if you have to keep them in a pool for a certain period of time, they’re still yours to do whatever you want with them.

4. Additional tokens and benefits: Yield farming often grants investors platform-specific tokens, governance rights, or other perks.

5. Diversification: By participating in multiple yield farming pools or platforms, investors can diversify their crypto holdings and mitigate risks.


1. Volatility and risk: The crypto market is highly volatile, and yield farming is subject to market risks and uncertainties.

2. Impermanent loss: Providing liquidity to pools can expose investors to the risk of impermanent loss, where the value of their deposited assets fluctuates relative to holding them.

3. Complexity and knowledge requirements: Yield farming involves understanding various protocols, strategies, and risks, which can be challenging for newcomers.

4. Rug pulls: Rug pulls are crypto scams. In most cases, scammers sugarcoat the story about their projects only to attract investors and run off with their assets. However, a rug pull also occurs when developers abandon crypto projects without announcing the decision to the public. This prevents crypto holders from selling their assets before it’s too late. In this scenario, crypto holders would get to keep their coins or tokens, but those digital assets would be utterly worthless, so they wouldn’t get a chance to sell them and recoup their losses.

5. Regulatory concerns: The evolving regulatory landscape surrounding DeFi and cryptocurrencies introduces uncertainties and potential legal hurdles.

In all of this, we must also consider the fact that you’ll be tied into smart contracts, which present both advantages and disadvantages. While smart contracts allow anyone to join a farming pool, bugs and other vulnerabilities in may lead to potential losses, sometimes jeopardizing entire holdings. Still, smart contracts are the foundation of decentralization, improving efficiency and transparency in a decentralized ecosystem.

A few more words on the most prominent protocols

Several prominent protocols have emerged within the crypto yield farming ecosystem, each offering unique features and opportunities for investors. Here are a few noteworthy examples:

Coinbase: Certainly one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Coinbase provides yield farming opportunities through its Coinbase Earn program. Users can earn rewards by learning about different cryptocurrencies and completing educational tasks.

Uniswap: A decentralized exchange protocol built on Ethereum, Uniswap allows users to trade ERC-20 tokens directly from their wallets. It also offers liquidity provision and yield farming through liquidity pools, where investors can earn fees and rewards.

DeFi Kingdoms: DeFi Kingdoms is a gamified yield farming platform combining decentralized finance and gaming elements. Users can participate in yield farming while engaging in gameplay, earning rewards through in-game assets and tokens.

MELD: This is still a relatively new startup, and it’s based on the Cardano network. According to the founders, it’s the first DeFi, non-custodial banking protocol.

Final thoughts

Crypto yield farming has transformed the investment landscape, providing individuals with new opportunities to generate substantial returns in the DeFi ecosystem. While it can be profitable, yield farming poses certain risks. If you aren’t comfortable with taking those risks, it’s always best to move on and find another project that will allow you to stay in your comfort zone.

By understanding the fundamental principles, types of yield farming, associated risks, and prominent protocols, investors can navigate this emerging field and capitalize on its potential rewards. As with any investment strategy, conducting thorough research, and understanding the risks involved is crucial before engaging in yield farming. With prudent decision-making, investors can unlock the immense power of DeFi and leverage yield farming to optimize returns on their crypto investments.
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