Farm Management: Information you need to know
Farm management in the agricultural industry requires knowledge, patience, and creativity to be successful. The following blog post will present the art and science of managing a farm in hopes that it can help you get started on your journey into this rewarding industry!
In the end, we hope you find our content helpful for any farming needs or questions you might have about starting up your farm!
Read the whole guide or jump to a section of interest:
Farm management is the process of running a farm as a business. This involves making decisions about what crops to grow, how to use the land, and how to best care for the animals. It also includes keeping track of finances, marketing the farm's products, and managing employees. Farm management requires a deep understanding of agricultural science and business. With years of experience, successful farmers are able to make their farms thrive. by carefully considering each decision they make. In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in sustainable farming practices. This means using methods that protect the environment and improve the long-term health of the land. As more consumers become interested in buying organic food, it is important for farmers to stay up-to-date on the latest sustainable practices. By implementing these practices on their farms, they can ensure that their products are meeting the highest standards.
What is a farm and what does farming include?
The short explanation is that a working farm is a place (or area of land) that produces food, animals, and products from animals for people's use.
The more extended definition is that a farm is land used for agriculture production, including farms to produce food for human consumption. This food production comes from livestock operations such as dairy, poultry, and red meat.
Livestock on the farms we work with include dairy cattle, such as cows, heifers and calves. Beef operations with fatners and weaners. Sheep with wool animals as well as prime lamb.
In saying that, you might find other domesticated animals such as pigs, horses and even camels.
We won't discuss much with cropping fields where farms produce various large-scale grain, fruit and vegetable.
Managing your farm takes not only knowledge but patience as well. It requires creativity too! Those who have been successful at it feel they have a passion for it.
To learn more about what a farm is, read:
What are the types of farms you can manage?
There are many different types of farms, but this blog will focus on livestock and fodder crop operations with a strong flavour toward large ruminants that graze the pasture.
Livestock Farming Operations:
These involve producing animals such as cattle, pigs, sheep and goats, which provide food in forms such as meat and milk products for human consumption or wool from sheep. Livestock farming is one part of modern agriculture that requires knowledge beyond what most people know about growing crops.
You must take into account many variables, including animal waste management (manure), feed nutritional values (ensuring proper intake) and reproductive capabilities (breeding).
So, first, you need an understanding when planning out your operation of how much money will come in vs. how much will go out with any business.
Crop Farming Operations:
These involve producing corn, wheat, soybeans, and other grains, pulses, legumes and vegetables. Plant products provide food in flour and livestock feed for human consumption or ethanol for fuel.
Crop farming is one part of modern agriculture that requires knowledge beyond what most people know about growing food.
You must take into account many variables, including soil nutrient management (fertiliser application), weed control (herbicides/pesticides) and crop protection from weather damage (insurance).
Farms come in all shapes and sizes, from smallholding of one hectare to massive stations and ranches that cover hundreds of thousands and even as much as millions of hectares. These businesses range from management under family ownership, cooperatives, government holdings, and corporate governance.
To learn more about the types of farms you can manage, read:
How to start your farm management career?
There are many different ways you can become involved in running a farm, but here are some tips on how to get started if it's something that interests you!
First, do you have what it takes for managing a farm?
The first thing I would recommend doing is educating yourself as much as possible about the industry before diving right into starting up your operation. Check out what other people have done for successful farming careers. Call your local extension agency and find the resources you need to become a well-educated farmer before you get started.
Second, start small and grow your operation from there!
Don't just jump into it with both feet right away because you could end up spending a lot of money on something that may not work out for you. Instead, find mentors or friends to help guide your way and assess the industry before making any big decisions about running your farm operation. There are many ways to get involved in agriculture; find what works best for you: production farming (livestock), value-added agribusiness, crops/crops management/agronomy, agricultural education, etc.
Then get funding set aside for yourself if needed (this is where working with someone successful at it can be beneficial) and take things one step at a time.
Third, do your research and establish your knowledge!
There are many resources available to you that will help guide getting started with farm management.
Here is an example of some online farmer resources:
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture
- The Farm Journal's Guide to Starting Your Own Business
- Cornell University - Small Farms Program
- USDA Farmer Veteran Coalition-Veteran Agripreneurs Project Initiative (for veterans who want to start their farming businesses)
To learn more about starting your farming career, read:
What are the benefits of managing a farm?
There are many benefits to running a farm. For one, you will be able to provide food for others, which not everyone can say they do because it takes so much dedication and hard work.
You get the satisfaction of knowing how your product ends up on someone's plate when they sit down to eat their meal at night or whether what you produce goes into feeding domesticated livestock animals.
It also provides an opportunity for income over time if done correctly, through paid employees/contractors or by selling your products directly (depending on the location of your operation).
In addition, there are other opportunities in farming such as crop management/crop consulting, hiring people who want production jobs like ploughing fields, animal science careers where you oversee breeding programs and so on.
If you own and operate a farm, you can be your boss.
To learn more about the benefits of farming, read:
What are the common management mistakes when starting a new farm?
One mistake that some beginners make is being too ambitious.
When you first begin farming, it can be challenging to get things going because of the many variables such as weather, pest attacks, etc.
So take your time when starting by finding a mentor or two who have been successful at what they do in the industry before diving into something that may not work for you later down the road.
It's also a good idea to know how much money will come in vs go out if you're new to the business side of agriculture instead of just jumping right into "the dream." Jumping in with little knowledge could end up costing your health with significant amounts of physical, mental and financial stress.
Another common mistake is getting in over your head. Farming can be a rewarding career, but it takes time and hard work. Therefore, it is best to focus on one thing at a time when starting up. If you find you can't complete tasks, you might need to hire a worker or two (if possible).
Finally, make sure you know who your customer is before producing anything! This understanding will help a lot because farmers get caught in the details of what they do.
If you don't know your customers, then how are you going to sell things to them?
To learn more about the common farm management mistakes, read:
What are the challenges of managing a farm?
Farmers' challenges are keeping up with technology, accessing it, and running a profitable business.
In addition, farming has changed over time, just like many other markets have because there needs to be efficiency and effectiveness involved for farms (and businesses) in any industry they're part of if they're going to survive long term.
If you want people/customers who depend on what you produce or provide input into their business operations, then utilising appropriate equipment such as GPS enabled tractors and other technology can help tremendously!
Another significant issue is financial sustainability. From family farming through to corporate agriculture, there are different dynamics at play. Whether working for the boss of a corporate who pulls the belt tight or yourself as the family who continues to fight adverse operating conditions to run a profitable business, it all needs careful farm business management.
For example, drought or flood could wipe out your feedstocks, decimate production and ultimately put the most significant pressure on management.
Land values have held firm and will continue to keep value into the future with such a large population of mouths to feed, the erosive process of land degradation, wasteful consumerism and poor supply chain management. That is if you're maintaining and even improving land values with proper care and attention to the environment.
A lot of risk to a farm business is externalities from market changes and conditions, which link with adverse environmental changes that impact supply and demand throughout the food supply chain. In saying that, internal operating pressures can have a devastating impact on a business.
Here are some of the challenges that you may face in running a farm business:
- 1. Adverse weather conditions
- 2. High prices of inputs
- 3. Hard to find good farmworkers
- 4. Difficulty finding time
- 5. Farming for a wage
- 6. Breakdowns and emergencies
1. Adverse weather conditions
Adverse weather conditions. After all, seasonal conditions determine farming success. During drought or when it is too hot, the yield per acre is not good. When there are floods and cold weather, crops can die entirely, and livestock is left stranded without feed and proper loafing or grazing areas. Remember to assess the likelihood of an adverse weather event, and if you can't afford to lose a crop, then my suggestion would be to take out crop insurance. Anything severe like drought is a real hit on production and will quickly increase costs, diminish capital, and pressure farm finances.
2. High prices of inputs
High prices of inputs such as fertiliser and bought-in feed are a cost that needs continuous watching. At times farmers might have to buy expensive feedstuff that may be of poor quality or introduce weeds. Fertiliser is a significant requirement for land production and must be at the right price to achieve output that pays the bills. Manging inputs sound pretty simple. However, it is another thing to balance the efficient use of fertiliser for hitting production targets with profitable and sustainable farming practices.
3. Hard to find good farmworkers
Hard to find good farmworkers is an expected challenge since many farm businesses operate in rural and remote locations. Quality of personnel is often lacking due to a couple of reasons. One is the attraction of working long and hard hours for lower pay than in most other jobs. Two, the lower population density in rural locations decreases the pool of applicants applying for farm labour.
4. Difficulty finding time
Difficulty finding time for other commitments such as balancing your life with work and family is a tough farming challenge. Please don't underestimate this point. It is critical. You need the best time management to balance your health and lifestyle. Remember, your family will always be there, and you need to be there for them. Create healthy habits that include your family and maximise your effort in balancing your life goals with work.
5. Farming for a wage
Farming for a wage can be tricky if the salary doesn't cover your unpaid wages. This get's even harder to swallow when you see land values increasing and the farm business turning a solid profit. Especially when you're trying to look after your finances while spending time with family, money isn't everything, but money will help support your family.
6. Breakdowns and emergencies
Breakdowns and emergencies can hit at any time, and as it goes, they tend to strike at the worst of times. You know, you've finished for the day and have just had a shower and put your feet up when you hear your phone ring!
These challenges should not turn you off but are just something to be mindful of when thinking about a farming career. You can avoid many issues and challenges in a farm business by delivering optimised farm management planning and executing the strategies you preemptively put in place.
In saying that, if it makes life easier, why not take advantage of modern tools when possible?
To learn more about the common farm management mistakes, read:
What are the farm business management pillars?
There are four main pillars (that we'll discuss here) when managing a farm:
- People (staff, employees, workers, labour)
- Livestock (sheep, beef, dairy)
- Assets (plant and equipment)
- Feed (crops, fodder, forage, pasture)
People (farm staff, employees, workers, labour)
Managing farm staff is one of the main areas that people who are new to management or farming, in general, tend to underestimate. Managing a group of people at once can be difficult, but it makes it easier when you keep your end goal (and vision) in mind.
What do I mean by this?
Well, if you're someone like me, then maybe you see yourself as an individual contractor/farmer who does his own thing and doesn't need anyone else's help with anything because "I got this." However, we both know that without other farmers helping out each other on their farms during whatever season for whatever reason, no one would survive long term!
So what does this mean exactly?
When hiring employees/contractors, it means that the person has what it takes to succeed and is willing to work hard, take pride in their work ethic, and do whatever they can to help out other farmers when possible.
We all have family, friends or people we know who need a little extra income for various reasons, so why not use them instead of someone you don't know?
If you're a farm owner, perhaps you could benefit from hiring a farm manager. At least going through the process might highlight operating areas where you should focus your energy.
Another thing I would recommend doing if you're new to hiring staff/contractors is getting referrals—primarily referrals from employees who have been successful at being reliable, trustworthy and effective with their job.
Doing this will ensure that any future workers will be just like those others before them, which means fewer headaches for yourself long term! No one wants to work with people who slack off, which is the same for your good working employees.
Create a catalogue of people resources that you can rely upon for future reference. There are several reasons why this is a good idea, but generally, this is a requirement for growers or producers who operate seasonally demanding farming systems.
By building a solid contact database, you can efficiently use the growing season by knowing that staff are accessible.
Perhaps you've got a solid succession plan and thinking about the next generation.
If not, this needs to exist as it underpins your exit strategy and planting the seed now will help the next generation. Well, it depends if you are a farm family or not or are determined to practice near subsistence farming!
Livestock (sheep, beef, dairy)
Knowledge of cattle, beef and sheep is a must if you're planning on focusing on these types of livestock.
It's not enough to "know" what you're doing - you have to be able to communicate it well with the people who work for/with you to understand how important it is from their perspective as well!
For example, when breeding cows or heifers (young females), farmers need to make sure that everyone knows when insemination should happen. This communication and training will help increase fertility rates, meaning more calves born into the world are ready for market later down the road!
This breeding strategy means less time waiting around and ensures better quality genetics overall, which everyone in the red meat and dairy industry wants.
Assets (plant and equipment)
Assets include machinery, implements/attachments such as ploughs or sprayers, dairy equipment and infrastructure such as irrigation, land, buildings, and other important things to maintaining a profitable business.
Having up-to-date assets can make your job easier when it comes time to do the work required on the farm because you've got what you need! But if not, then problems may arise, which isn't suitable for anyone involved long term.
It's important to remember that working hard doesn't necessarily mean getting more done - investing some of your money into excellent quality tools means fewer breakdowns overall resulting from equipment that is maintained and managed.
Get the systems in place to determine service schedules, which will pay dividends in the long run.
Having a plan, being efficient and using your time effectively will help you take this farm from good to great.
Farm planning can be fun!
No one likes spending money on machinery. It depreciates quickly and constantly need repairs. Then there is the scale factor where a small farm doesn't dilute the cost of machinery as much as larger farms.
You get to do what you love - grow crops or raise animals, operate machinery, as well as spend time with family and friends while doing it.
I have been extremely fortunate because I've got an amazing wife. She understands that sometimes farming can't prioritise other things in life, which makes me feel even luckier about my decision to become a farmer full-time. She's also incredibly supportive of our young son too! So who knows where life may lead us, but at least for now, we pursue this dream without judgment or interference, understanding that as soon as demand impacts the quality of our health, something needs to change.
Feed (crops, fodder, forage, pasture)
Feed refers to the actual feedstuff provided for livestock and how it's grown, harvested, and stored.
If you're starting, I would recommend learning about what type of fodder or pasture plants are best suited to your area and soil conditions because this knowledge will help you tremendously in the long run!
For example, chewing grasses such as dallisgrass can cause cattle to become susceptible to bloating, which isn't good at all, so knowing you should avoid specific types of plants/grasses altogether means fewer headaches trying to figure things out on the fly!
The same applies when managing crops - having a plan ahead of time helps ensure nothing goes wrong along the way.
You'll also need to decide how you want the animals' feed provided. For example, growing fodder and harvesting it yourself can be a massive undertaking, but sometimes it is well worth the time involved to ensure things are done correctly from start to finish.
Alternatively, you could sell your excess crops or buy them instead - either way. This farm management decision will come down to what works best for you and everyone else who's involved with running this farm successfully long term!
The way you feed your animals is essential for understanding farming systems and will ultimately be a business decision for realising farm profit.
You might be managing a farm, but be an entrepreneur (yes, farmers must have some streak of entrepreneurship to navigate the daily challenges!). Being an entrepreneur means taking calculated risks, which isn't always easy, especially if there are more than just yourself depending on getting paid at some stage!
However, having clear goals that aren't pie-in-the-sky type ideas helps keep businesses focused, so people know exactly where they stand in profitability and overall growth.
There are many leavers to pull when feeding animals, from growing grass to other forage and fodder crops, to buy in feed. The choice is yours and will be defined mainly by the location of your farm. This factor is due to the feed sources. For example, are there cereals or legumes grown in abundance in your region?
These sorts of questions will assist in deciding whether you search for fodder producers or grow homegrown feed.
In the long run, it's crucial to have a plan for everything from growing crops or raising animals to selling products because this will help you move forward successfully. This strategy is what most farmers tend to do when they're feeling challenged by anything that may put them off track!
To learn more about the farm management pillars, read:
What sort of person makes it as a farm manager?
Understanding what it takes for someone to "make it" in a farming career is not always obvious.
It isn't always about who can manage the highest farm business profitability into the future with the leanest resources. It isn't always the next generation to take over the farm and continue the far business. Managing a farm is more about sheer grit and determination to solve some of the most complex decisions day in and day out.
What skills do farmers need?
The skills required can range from any of the following and more:
- 1. Agronomist
- 2. Accountant
- 3. Veterinarian
- 4. Ruminant nutritionist
- 5. Dr Who
- 6. Jack of all trades
Agronomical skill in understanding the relationships between crops, pasture, land, soil and nutrients. Understanding when plants need water or fertiliser applications according to the agronomical principles of caring for soils and plants. Understanding the science of establishing forage and fodder crops will pay dividends enabling a resilient farming system. Weeds also need to be managed and control implemented with several strategies that will help curb any infestations and outbreaks that will aid in management year-on-year.
Accounting and financial understanding or developing skills in these areas will help your success. In addition, the skills will help in the following areas, budgets, paying wages, managing assets, money, resources, markets and general farm business management. With financial skills, you'll have a greater understanding of the commodity you sell, where investments will have the most significant impact and develop plans to support future generations.
Veterinary skills for managing and assessing livestock health and welfare will get you out of many sticky positions with animals needing care after hours. It will save on your vet bill and allow you to identify issues found in your livestock.
4. Ruminant nutritionist
Ruminant nutritionist skills to determine feeding rates, composition, nutrition, requirements and so on for your cattle in your farming systems. The ability to know the energy, protein and fibre requirements of your livestock is a skill that will optimise animal production.
5. Dr Who
Dr Who's skills for travelling through time, as managing a farm is all about juggling and time as a thin resource for running an efficient farm operation. The more you can be aware of seasonal impacts on your farm by comparing history to the current, the more you can prepare for an unforeseen difficult period.
6. Jack of all trades
Jack of all trades that cover many areas on top of the above for operating heavy machinery such as tractors, fixing plumbing such as irrigation, mechanical understanding for improving machinery, and the list goes on.
We could talk about the skills required all day. However, the honest answer is that many different types of people can manage a farm successfully. You have to be willing to learn new skills when needed and not give up on the first hurdle!
What traits do farmers need?
The type of people who will be successful in farm business management may have any of the following traits: ol li | 1. Strong work ethic li | 2. Inherent understanding of the land li | 3. Open to new technology (agtech) li | 4. Resilient to adversity li | 5. Pragmatic and practical li | 6. Entrepreneurship
1. Strong work ethic
A strong work ethic and know-how to balance family, your time, play and so on. If you have children, they are possibly the next generation, but only if you're there to give a hand. A strong work ethic doesn't mean you work to exhaustion, it means you plan, you know what to do, you're passionate, and you get on with achieving the tasks ahead of you.
2. Inherent understanding of the land
An inherent understanding of the land, farming systems, and a grounded perspective will make entering farming much more accessible. Seek advice from those in the know and remain active in discussion groups that facilitate learning and sharing information.
3. Open to new technology (agtech)
Open to new technology, training, and continued learning and iteration of managing a farm along its course. Implementing new technologies and information systems can be a pain. Look for services that provide support and will action any issues you raise immediately. At Pasture.io, we dedicate an Account Manager to help busy farm managers. Compare different technologies and services to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
4. Resilient to adversity
Resilient to adversity, as a lot can go wrong. For example, seasonal change can catch you out without the proper understanding by continual analysis of your farm business. There is also a risk to your health, which could mean your absence on-farm could unroll all of your excellent without contingency work. The important thing is that you plan for the worst-case scenario while aiming big.
5. Pragmatic and practical
A pragmatic and practical approach to managing a farm business will make decision making easier. For example, driving a farm is still about operating a business for income, profitability for the next generation, and fostering quality of life on the farmland.
Entrepreneurship is perhaps my favourite. For me, it means taking educated and calculated risks while having clear goals to help keep the farm focused. Be agile, be lean, and practice this methodology where you quickly deploy farm management practices. First, learn through hands-on education and then use your energy to iterate based on the teaching of the last practice change you implemented on your farm. It all sounds very complex, but it can be summed up as cycling around the build-measure-learn feedback loop as quickly as you can.
Do farmers need formal education?
Answering this question will largely depend on the circumstances of the person.
Farm management is becoming highly complex, with greater demands on improving past operating conditions for delivering profitable farm production systems that are both economically and environmentally sustainable. However, we are moving to a point where there is no financial gain from not being environmentally friendly. A loss and compounding into the future will arise. That's a side distraction and for another article.
If you're born into a farm business, there is perhaps no need for formal education if succession planning and a strategy are in place. However, suppose you're happy to stay working in the business. In that case, you may find yourself isolated in terms of leaving the company if you do not have a trade, diploma or university degree.
The issue is that even though you might be brilliant and can perform duties across many trades as most farmers can, you are still not recognised in the broader world without a certificate. But, of course, this position is only an issue if you are young with no experience and are looking to move into another role outside of farming.
If you have built up years of farm business management experience, you might find it easier to shift across into another industry.
What formal education does is help others understand that it isn't just your parents that can give you a reference for the last 20 years of work on their (and your?) farm. It helps others understand that you've had experience elsewhere and have achieved something accredited and something that you have stuck at to complete.
All valuable areas to understand about someone if you're employing them.
The last thing I want to touch on with this is that formal education isn't just about future-proofing yourself with financial opportunities or proving your past is sound. It is also about getting experience in the wider world. With this experience, you can take what you learn and create farm systems, optimise production, deploy best practice land management, potentially own multiple farms, and understand resources and the process to generate profit from your assets.
Many steps are needed when managing a farm, so it's essential to have fun along the way and learn as much as possible because this will help you move forward successfully over time!
So do whatever it takes long term by understanding how a farm business works within agriculture, including livestock management strategies and effective crop harvesting techniques. Make intelligent business decisions such as taking out assets and crop insurance. Monitor land values, and perform market analysis for procuring and sowing appropriate cultivars.
Don't get stuck in the past and innovate!
Here are the critical steps to manage your farm successfully.
- Understand your farm environment with weather and soil.
- Define goals and a clear vision to achieve your purposes.
- Develop extended and shorter-term strategic and tactical plans.
- Take calculated risks where you can afford to lose and are sure to win.
- Prepare for the worst with adverse conditions and circumstances.
- Control your farm finances with scenario planning and forward budgeting.
- Utilise technology such as online pasture measurement and grazing apps.
- Look after the land, and the ground will look after you.
- Think differently, iterate, learn and adapt to management practices.
- Remember, farming is as much a lifestyle as a business. Enjoy what you do.
1. Understand your farm environment with weather and soil.
If you have read this far, you will already know how much of an impact your farm's environment has on your production system.
The environment and soil will determine the type of crops, animals, and produce you can grow on your farm. One of the biggest hurdles in farming is understanding the seasonal impact on growing conditions, whether forage for livestock or crops for human consumption.
The soil is, of course, different to rainfall, temperature, daylight hours, etc. But it also has an influence on farm management decisions.
For example, sandy soils may not hold much moisture and therefore be a difficult medium to farm in a low rainfall zone with moisture-loving crops and little in the way of irrigation water (that is, if irrigation is even physically or financially viable). In this example, you may need to grow drought-resilient crops that have deep taproots.
2. Define goals and a clear vision to achieve your purposes.
As discussed earlier, defining your goals with a clear vision early on in the piece will go a long way to achieving success. In addition, this clarity will enable you to prepare for your exit strategy.
An exit strategy might be selling the farm on or through succession planning for future generations.
Setting goals when you're exhausted won't happen. Or they won't have clarity. So this scope needs to be done early and referred to regularly.
However this looks for you, you must set some goals for your farm business.
3. Develop extended and shorter-term strategic and tactical plans.
By understanding your farm environment and goals, you can create long-term and shorter-term strategic and tactical plans for achieving your purposes.
trategical plans can look out to three or fivers years, while tactical plans look at the next twelve months.
hese strategic and tactical plans form from your budgets and financial forecasts for each year of these timeframes. They can also include other essential factors such as input costs (such as seed, fertiliser), sale prices, etc.
oth types of plans will help you manage your farm successfully.
4. Take calculated risks where you can afford to lose and are sure to win.
As a business owner, it is your job to take calculated risks without putting yourself or your family's livelihood at risk if things go wrong.
And even though nothing goes 100% right every time, there will be times when you should take risks.
These calculated risks are usually on the upside of things but need to be planned for and prepared accordingly, with a contingency plan in place should your risk fail or go pear-shaped.
5. Prepare for the worst with adverse conditions and circumstances.
Environmental conditions can change without notice. However, if you have a good plan, it will be easier to implement the necessary changes when situations like drought or flooding occur.
Market conditions can change, pushing input costs higher and decreasing the price you receive for your farm products. Good planning and decision-making will make adjusting to changing market conditions easier.
Competition is another factor that can affect the farm business. For example, when more farmers are producing a specific crop or livestock, prices may be lower than your production costs, leading to bankruptcy if you don't react accordingly to changes in marketing strategies.
All these factors rely on good management and decision-making skills. Preparing for the worst will make it easier to react if conditions change, which creates success as a farmer.
6. Control your farm finances with scenario planning and forward budgeting.
Knowing what it costs to produce your crops and how much you can sell them for will help predict what income the farm is going to have. This analysis is the same with livestock products.
Conducting a financial analysis of different scenarios by changing key variables such as yield or selling price will allow you to understand where you are vulnerable in meeting short-term goals.
For example, if a drought were to hit the farm, would you have enough cash to pay your bills?
Forward budgeting involves projecting costs and revenue for a fixed period. This technique is helpful as it allows farmers to make quick decisions regarding their financial planning.
It also helps them identify potential problems early on before they happen by using historical data from previous years of the farming business and identifying critical indicators for projections.
7. Utilise technology such as online pasture measurement and grazing apps.
Utilising technology can better help you to manage a farm by keeping a finger on the pulse. Technology can be as simple as using an app to measure pasture and then updating it accordingly or having a detailed spreadsheet for all your livestock that you regularly update.
One such technology is Pasture.io, which allows you to receive automatic measurements of your pasture with daily updates. It also has various other features, such as the ability to make grazing decisions and make other farm management decisions.
We talk more about this tool further on in this article.
8. Look after the land, and the land will look after you.
Looking after the land is the most crucial task when looking after a farm. If you don't look after your land, it won't be able to produce any crops for you, which in turn will mean no food on the table and less money in your pocket!
One of the first things is to make sure that enough trees (or bushes) are planted strategically to influence windbreaks, shelterbelts, erosion control, and healthy populations of beneficial organisms for integrated pest management.
Looking after the land involves practices that eliminate unsustainable erosion or leaching of nutrients into waterways or weed infestations.
By looking after the land, it will look after you!
9. Think differently, iterate, learn and adapt to management practices.
Be flexible in your thinking, iterate on your management model, and you can get better at it
The more flexible you think about managing a farm, the easier it is for you to learn what works. The ability to adapt your practices will also help you achieve results faster than trying something new every time you face an obstacle or problem.
10. Remember, farming is as much a lifestyle as a business. Enjoy what you do.
Think about your family and friends and the essential things in life. It's easy to get caught up at work and forget how important it is to have time with the people who matter most or do what matters most to you.
In saying all of this, try to avoid making your farm a lifestyle business, or you may find yourself working all hours of day and night without any time for loved ones. This role is significantly more challenging if you work for unpaid wages (which you shouldn't). Balance is key!
How to use Pasture.io for farm management?
Pasture.io is a leading tool for all sorts of farm management systems and can help you get the best use of your resources and land.
Ultimately, our application can help you achieve the production level that brings in the money you need with careful planning.
When looking at our course services, we provide automatic (satellite) pasture measurements for supporting the best grazing decisions.
Our models perform a thorough analysis of your farm records and then deliver pasture measurements informing you of the quantity of pasture in each paddock, how quickly your field is growing and how quickly the leaf of your pasture is emerging. These numbers are also provided as a rolling 14-day forecast so you can see what will happen in the immediate future for planning your farm management.
All of the analysis happens automatically and then is updated daily on your farm dashboard. This process helps farm management understand how resources such as dairy cattle, labour, production and the business are running. Ultimately we provide a decision support tool to help your farm management realise the profit from your land.
You know you can pay your farm staff, you know you can feed your dairy cattle, you know that you can get a grasp on the future, and you know all of this can be easy with proper farm management.
Pasture.io aims to improve the livelihood of farmers by improving the farm management process with a direct impact on pasture, cattle and land performance.
If you have a farm and want to use remote sensing technology to measure your pasture and graze your land, get in touch with us today for a crash course on improving your planning and farm management.
Until we meet again, Happy Farm Management!
Additional Reading Resources
Here are additional reading resources on Farm Management, read:
- What is a farm and what does farming include?
- What are the types of farms you can manage?
- How to start your farm management career?
- What are the 10 benefits of managing a farm?
- What are 6 common management mistakes when starting a new farm?
- What are the challenges of managing a farm?
- What are the four farm business management pillars?