Farm Management: What is it and why is it Important on Your Farm?

Posted on Friday, September 7, 2018 at 4:00 PM


farm management harvesting

Dictionary.com defines management as “the process of dealing with or controlling things or people.” For farmers, management is not the reason we got into the business. However, effective farm management plays an integral role in the economic viability and long-term sustainability of farms.

Farm management includes many layers: labor, planning and task management, expenses, marketing, livestock management, and crop management. There are added complexities in managing a farm that don’t exist in other businesses. As a farm manager you must be comfortable with multiple roles, and demands change depending on the day or season. 

The good news is that technology makes managing a farm easier for us than it was for previous generations. Technology is at our fingertips 24/7, and built into the equipment we use on our farms. Processes are simplified, saving time for something more important, farming.

Labor is the largest expense farms have, and the area needing the most management. Tracking labor and accurately factoring labor into product costs are two areas where farm managers face challenges. Managers maximize labor efficiency by streamlining projects and communicating clearly with employees. 

Crops, seasons, and type of farm dictate the planning, projects, and tasks needed. Effective farm managers plan and manage their tasks, and communicates with their employees to ensure efficiency and that errors aren’t creating lost revenue or increased expenses. Apps can track planning and task management, keeping your strategy at your fingertips and avoiding lost notes or stacks of paper. Project priorities can be updated on the go as weather, new clients or shifting markets demand change.

Expenses are stacked on the front end of farming. Inputs are required before you sell a crop. Adding expenses directly into your budget for real time tracking helps accurately price products at harvest time. Effective expense sheets and budgets automatically calculate unit price, profit, and loss.

Harvested products must be sold. In some cases, farms contract with buyers ahead of harvest, but product marketing is often post-harvest. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as “if you build it they will come.” Farm managers must know their target customer, understand their needs, and communicate why our product is important and when it’s available. Creating and maintaining relationships with your customers leads to a sustainable marketing strategy. 

Livestock management is one of the complex layers of managing a farm business that other business managers don’t experience. Animals require a greater degree of responsibility and care, from feed inputs to veterinary care. Livestock record keeping entails tracking  livestock count, location, feed consumption, losses, expenses, payment and orders in one place saves time and paints an accurate picture of your business.

Crops have different management demands. Each crop has a planting date, may require spraying throughout the growing season, and has a projected harvest date. Watching these dates and combining them with real-time monitoring is essential for good management. Use technology to set reminders for pest scouting in crops, and documenting findings.

Managing a farm is a complex process, but it doesn’t have to be a full-time job. Invest time setting up technology to work for you on farm management and you will spend less time managing and more time farming. 

References: 

https://www.extension.iastate.edu/ag/farm-management-resources


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