Farm management is the operational aspect of farming. It includes strategic planning and the implementation of decisions about resource usage on your farm.
If you’re wondering how to improve the efficiency of your farm, there are some simple things you can do to help your business grow.
Whether you're looking for small farm management software or large scale, here are some key tips for successful farm management:
Identify your goals
Good farm management starts with identifying your goals.
When setting goals, be ambitious but realistic — this isn't an excuse to set yourself up for failure! If your goal is unrealistic, it is less likely to be achieved, and that is the opposite of motivating.
It’s always important to define the problem before starting on a solution. You should also ask yourself: What does success look like? In what ways will this change my life and my farm/business?
A good model to follow when setting goals is the SMART method. This means that your goals should be:
Specific - Your goal should define the what and why of your desired outcome.
Measurable - Your goal will only be meaningful if it can be measured, so make sure you have a way to measure progress toward reaching that goal.
Achievable - Your goal should be achievable within a reasonable amount of time.
Realistic - Asking yourself whether something is possible helps ensure that it's also reasonable; don't set yourself up for disappointment by setting unrealistic expectations.
Time-bound - Many things in life require patience, and both agriculture and farm management are among them. Find out when you expect to accomplish this specific task or meet this particular milestone and mark down the date when you achieved those results either by writing down any related milestones or by placing a calendar reminder on an upcoming date.
Another aspect to keep in mind is sustainability. If your goal isn't sustainable, then it will be impossible to measure whether or not you've reached it.
Understand your farm and your competition
You know the size and location of your farm. After all, you likely live and work there on a daily basis. But what do you know about your competition?
Knowing the size, location and type of farm you're managing as well as your competition will help you better understand your role in the local farm network.
Do your research
If possible, visit farms in your area that are similar in size, management style and production focus. Look at other producers' websites or social media accounts to see what they're up to. You can also attend trade shows where producers gather together to share information about trends in their industry (or ask them directly).
Know the market for your products. Figure out what kind of yield you need in order for your product(s) to be profitable enough for consumers—and then decide whether growing those crops makes sense given their land use requirements versus other options like livestock production or cash crops such as corn or soybeans (which might require less labor).
Know the regulations
If you're selling a product that has to comply with any regulation, it's important to know what those requirements are. For example, if your farm will produce eggs that go into grocery stores, you'll need to be licensed by the USDA and follow their guidelines for egg production.
A farm plan is a living document that enables you to identify and prioritize your goals, as well as develop a strategy for achieving those goals.
The process of creating the plan is part of the learning process. It helps you determine what needs to be done on your farm and what resources are required to achieve those goals. The more detail you put into it, the more effective it will be in helping guide all aspects of your business operation.
A good farm planning tool will include several elements, such as:
Information about current conditions on the farm
An outline for future changes
Expectations for profitability
Costs involved with completing tasks
Labor needs and availability
Time estimates associated with various stages in production (e.g., planting crops)
Equipment requirements (e.g., tractor or plow)
Overall, farm planning is a great way to take a look at the big picture and guide all aspects of your business. It allows you to assess where you are currently at, as well as plan for the future.
Invest in a farm management software
A farm management software like FarmBrite can help you manage your farming business efficiently and profitably.
Farm management software can help you plan better, implement practices quickly and see what works — and what doesn’t. You can even compare results over time to spot trends in productivity and costs to help you make smart decisions about your farm’s future.
Most farm management software is easy to use and will help you manage your farm business for maximum efficiency and profit.
If you’ve ever wanted to make the most of your land and make better business decisions, try out a farm management software. You’ll know exactly where your profit margins are and how to optimize your business.
Crop and livestock planning
Another critical component of farm management is crop and livestock planning. Planning helps you to meet your goals, make decisions, implement those decisions, review your decisions and learn from mistakes.
Planning includes setting goals for the farm and determining how much to plant or raise based on market conditions and available resources (e.g., land, labor). It also involves evaluating whether the current level of production is adequate for meeting these goals or if more should be produced in order to meet them better.
Planning is important because it allows you to:
Determine how much to plant or raise based on market conditions and available resources (e.g., land, labor).
Evaluate whether the current level of production is adequate for meeting your goals or if more should be produced in order to meet them better.
Determine if production goals are being met.
Adjust the amount of production based on market conditions and available resources (e.g., land, labor).
Identify whether changes in the amount of production would improve your ability to meet your goals.
As a farmer, you know your land, crops, and animals inside and out. Likewise, it’s important to have a solid grasp on your financial situation.
Financial planning is the foundation of all farm management. To successfully manage your farm, you must know how much money is coming in and going out. You must also be aware of how much money you need to cover expenses and how much money can be used for reinvestment and debt payment.
Your farm is an important investment, so you should learn how to manage your assets. Learn how to get the most out of the equipment that you have.
Farm financial planning is a continuous process that should be done at least annually, but ideally on a monthly basis. It starts with a thorough analysis of your farm’s financial situation and ends with developing and implementing strategies to improve it.
A farm financial plan is a document that helps you manage your business and ensure it has a sound financial foundation. It should be prepared by an accountant or financial planner who understands agriculture and can identify the unique aspects of your operation.
How do you find the key to successful farm management?
By following the above steps you will be on the road to organizing and planning your farm. Of course, farming is a challenging career path, but as you know it is rewarding.
There are many ways to farm and many different aspects to take into consideration when operating your farm, including finances, technology, crops and livestock.
By implementing practices like farm management software, financial planning, and competitor research, you can optimize your farm business.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and try some of these techniques in your own farm business!
Courtney Garrett is a freelance writer and editor traveling the world as a digital nomad. She earned her Bachelor of Animal Science with a specialization in Livestock Science and Management in 2019, and has worked with dairy cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, chickens, and more over the past 10 years. When not writing, she enjoys horseback riding, swimming, and taking walks with her Havanese puppy, Ella.