Farmers are facing increasingly difficult situations with low prices for crops and increasingly high farm maintenance costs. So how exactly are the big farms managing to maintain their success through this difficult time?
We’ve been analysing some of the market leaders in the agriculture world to find out what practices they are carrying out to ensure their success.
1 – Gather Information
A pretty obvious practice but one you should be getting serious about, especially if you want to delve into precision farming.
It’s not just about gathering data from your own farm (which you need to be doing, regardless of how small or large your farm is) it’s about using data from relevant sources.
If you’ve got cattle, you need to be keeping up to date with veterinarians news. You also need to be asking vets and others that tend to your cattle to gather data too. Look at fellow cattle farmers data: there’s plenty of places to gather data from online. You need to be using all of this data together and staying on the ball to really understand and drive your farm forward. You might avert some major disasters as well.
2 – Consider Technology
Note that this practice is about considering technology, rather than jumping at the chance to buy it straight off the shelf.
Evaluate how useful the technology can be for your farm. Go beyond just mulling it over in your head; ask to see demonstrations, look for evidence and examples of how it is aiding farmers in the real world.
Some things to consider: does it fill a farm need? How much does it cost? Will it pay for itself in yield improvement? Does it save time? Do you need training to use it? Does the manufacturer offer any extra warranty or tech support if things go wrong? Are there online reviews of the product?
Taking machinery for a test run before investing is another must for large farms. No point wasting money on tech and machines that don’t do anything your existing machinery already can.
3 – Always Be One Step Ahead
After you’ve evaluated, either go for it or find something else. Don’t dither.
The really successful, large farms aren’t afraid to fully invest in new tech or a new method when it’s proven to be successful. While others are waiting for more data or stuck in their old ways, the successful farmers have taken the leap and put the innovative technology to use.
High-profit farms never pass up the opportunity to make their farms more efficient. If there’s not a product on the market that makes their farm more efficient, you can bet they’re currently trying to make that product or create a method for efficiency themselves.
Be pro-active, forward thinking and one step ahead of everyone else.
4 – Compare Your Data
We’ve already established that you need to up your data gathering game, but that’s not the end of your data journey. The next step is to start comparing it.
Just like the gathering stage, you need to go beyond what your farm gathers and really compare with a wide spread of data from different sources.
Create a benchmark that you need to beat. For example, you want to be in the top 10 of successful farmers in your region. To reach that goal you need to be comparing your data to other farmers data. Join networks and make connections. A little rivalry will really push your farm to achieve the best.
5 – Look at The Big Picture
When you’re working on a small farm it’s easy to get carried away micro-managing. You can be very efficient when you want to be, buying just the right amount of fertilizer to cover your entire field. But when you start to expand your farm and maintain success, you need to stop with the micro-managing and look at the big picture.
Instead of fertilizing the entire field, stick to just fertilizing spots. Manage your input as a whole, moving money around to where it’s needed overall. You need a profit overall, so rather than spending money fertilizing an entire farm (costly when you’ve expanded!) use your money wisely to do some soil tests. Apply fertilizer where it’s needed and then leave it be. You have other farm matters to tend.
6 – Consistent Yields
Aim for consistent yields year round. It’s no longer about turning enough profit to meet your financial deadlines, it’s about maintaining and successful farm with consistent yield.
Become a reliable farm. A corporation that people (and investors) come to rely on. Furthermore, this also protects you from unforeseen costs in the middle of the year or even on Christmas day. You’ll have less financial stress.
That goes for year on year yields too. A year with a huge yield is more than likely going to leave your fields lacking nutrients and feeling over farmed. You need to find a steady optimum that you can gradually increase. This way your farm can adapt and year after year you’ll have healthy profits.
7 – Be Savvy with Machinery
Our last proven practice is to be savvy with your farming machinery. Look at your cost for machinery per acre. You might have been running your tractor at $100 per acre when your farm was small, but now you’re a big farm you need to be running for a lot less.
If your cost per acre has gone up, you need to analyse where your money is going and maybe invest in some new machines. The more use you can get out of one machine, the lower the cost. It’s a balance between low-cost per acre and high-quality farming that produces a good yield to meet your financial goals.
For more advice on how to transform your small farm into an agricultural enterprise, check out the other articles on our blog and get some advice from professionals in your area! Leave a comment below with your thoughts on our proven practices and ideas of your own you’d like to share.