Farm Management: 5 Things (2024) You Have to Know

Farm management blends science, art, and business acumen.

Those who adhere to farm management best practices are following methods that help ensure their success.

Here’s what you should know about what farm management is, how you can develop your own plan, and how it can help you become more successful.

1. What is farm management?

Farm management refers to a collection of management strategies and methods that keep a farm productive and profitable.

While farm management tactics are often instituted on large commercial farms, they can also be successful on small family-owned farms.

So, no matter the size of your land, you may want to consider farm management as a way to ensure efficiency and success in day-to-day farm activities.

2. What are the best practices for farm management?

Farm management best practices include the following categories.

Keep in mind that these will vary depending on farming, location, and environmental factors.

bullet Soil management

Soil is a key factor in whether your crops are successful.

To properly manage your soil, you should take the following steps:

1. Test your soil to evaluate the nutrient levels and pH

2. Apply appropriate fertilizers and organic matter to replenish nutrients

3. Implement crop rotation to reduce soil degradation and pest pressure

4. Minimize soil compaction by controlling machinery use and cover cropping

bulletWater management

Your farm can’t thrive without water, but farms can easily contribute to both water waste and pollution if they don’t set up their usage correctly.

First, you should monitor your soil’s moisture levels to understand how much you should be watering.

Under-irrigation and over-irrigation are both problems for different reasons.

Next, we recommend implementing efficient irrigation techniques such as drip irrigation or sprinkler systems.

These systems help to reduce water waste.

Another good tip is to collect and use rainwater for irrigation.

This will help reduce your reliance on freshwater sources.

Finally, you should also install proper drainage systems to prevent waterlogging and soil erosion.

bulletCrop selection and rotation

When selecting what you’ll grow on your farm, make sure you choose crops that are suited to the local climate and soil conditions.

You can also help to maintain your land after these growing cycles by rotating the crops.

This allows you to break pest and disease cycles and maintain soil fertility.

During fallow periods, you should consider using cover crops to protect and enrich the soil.

bulletPest and disease management

To manage pests, you must regularly monitor your crops for signs of pests and disease.

We suggest planting crop varieties that have a natural resistance to prevalent pests and diseases.

However, you’ll likely still see some pests and diseases on your land.

In this case, we recommend integrated pest management.

These are a combination of biological, cultural, and chemical control methods.

bulletConservation practices

There are a handful of conservation practices that can help you protect your land and ensure it operates smoothly.

Here are the tips you should know.

1. Use conservation tillage or no-till farming to reduce soil erosion and improve soil structure

2. Establish buffer zones and windbreaks which also protect against erosion and harsh weather conditions

3. Adopt agroforestry practices to integrate trees with crops and livestock for environmental and economic benefits

bulletRecord keeping and data analysis

Always maintain detailed records on factors like planting, fertilization, pest control, and yields.

When you need to make decisions about planting times, crop rotations, and resource allocation, you should analyze the historical data you have on your farm, so you can make the most informed decision.

bulletEnergy efficiency

Keep your farm on the cutting edge of technology by using energy-efficient machinery and equipment.

Installing renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines can require an initial investment, but they’ll help power your farm operations and pay off in the long term.

bulletMarket research and marketing strategies

Before you begin planting, do your research on local and global market demands.

This way, you can align your crop choices with profitable opportunities.

Depending on what you’re marketing and who you’re marketing to, you can develop marketing techniques to reach customers in your community or contact buyers on a worldwide scale.

bulletContinuous learning and adaptation

All farmers and landowners should stay up to date on the latest agricultural research and innovations.

We recommend continuing your education by attending workshops, seminars, and other agricultural extension programs.

If necessary, adapt your practices based on the lessons you learn or changing environmental conditions.

3. What should landowners know when managing farmland?

Are you a landowner looking to engage in successful farm management practices?

Here are some crucial considerations to keep in mind.

You’ll need to combine your existing agricultural knowledge, business planning, and practical skills to ensure everything runs smoothly.

bulletFirst, understand your land and resources.

You’ll need to start by assessing the type of soil you have as well as the quality and drainage on your land.

bulletNext, identify any natural features like slopes, water bodies, and potential areas for windbreaks.

bulletFinally, determine water sources on or off your land and the irrigation options available.

This assessment is critical to ensure you have sufficient knowledge and the ability to properly plan moving forward.

Once you’ve completed the initial assessment, you’ll need to define your goals.

These goals are the objectives you have for your land.

Do you want to focus on conservation?

Agricultural yield?

Both?

Either way, the answer to this question is critical.

We suggest evaluating the scale of your operation and the resources you have as well as what you’re willing to invest in the project.

This will allow you to set realistic and achievable goals.

Next, educate yourself on the agricultural industry overall.

You’ll need to be knowledgeable about crop management, livestock care, and sustainable practices.

If you’ve been in farming for a little while, then you may already be familiar with this.

If not, then you’ll want to attend workshops, reach out to peers, and do independent research to ensure you’re staying up to date on the latest farming techniques, trends, and technologies.

Following that, consider your budget.

How much are you willing to invest in your farm?

Have you given thought to operating costs or potential revenue?

You should estimate the potential returns on different crops or livestock based on market prices and historical data.

When you’ve set out a budget, you can select crops and livestock that fall within that range.

Here are factors that you should consider during selection.

bulletClimate, soil conditions

bulletMarket demand

bulletGrowth cycle

bulletYield potential, and

bulletAny potential challenges

Potential challenges include weather events, pests, diseases, and market fluctuations.

You should explore insurance options to help mitigate any financial risks.

As you begin farming, be sure to implement sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices to maintain soil fertility, prevent erosion, and conserve water.

There are best practices that can help you promote long-term productivity like crop rotation, cover cropping, and integrated pest management.

4. How do you create a farm management plan?

Here is a step-by-step on how to create your own farm management plan.

You’ll use the knowledge we discussed in section #3 and put it to work throughout this process.

bulletStep #1: Define your goals and objectives

Decide what you want your farm to focus on.

Will you focus on crop production, livestock management, sustainability, or a combination of these?

bulletStep #2: Understand your resources

You’ll need to know about the resources you have before you can create a plan around them.

How is your soil’s quality?

What is the topography of the land?

Do you have water sources on your land?

What about other natural features?

Other factors that should also be considered include climate, growing season, and available sunlight.

bulletStep #3: Assess your inventory

Make a detailed inventory of your assets and include equipment, infrastructure, and current resources.

You should also identify any specific strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats for your land.

This is called a SWOT analysis.

bulletStep #4: Choose your crops and livestock

You should always select your crops and livestock based on your location and market demand.

This will make your farm infinitely more successful.

You should also consider factors like crop rotation and the integration of livestock.

bulletStep #5: Perform soil testing

Soil testing can allow you to understand the nutrient levels, pH, and organic matter content that are present in your soil.

Once you gain sufficient knowledge of this, you can determine the amendments and practices that you must perform to improve soil health.

bulletStep #6: Maintain your water supply

Every successful farm must have a water source to help with its irrigation needs.

Once you’ve identified where you’ll obtain water, you should plan out how you’ll use this water.

Farms can easily misuse water if they don’t have water management as part of their plan.

We suggest researching conservation measures as well as rainwater harvesting.

bulletStep #7: Manage pests and diseases

As noted above, an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy can help you to minimize pest and disease issues on your farm.

This method includes preventative measures, monitoring, and appropriate treatments.

bulletStep #8: Design a crop rotation plan

Hopefully, you’ve already learned about the type of soil you have and what amendments you can add to keep it healthy.

But it doesn’t stop here!

Soil can get worn down when you continually plant season after season.

To prevent this, investigate crop rotation and cover cropping.

Crop rotation will help you optimize soil health and prevent disease buildup.

Additionally, covering cropping helps to improve soil structure and fertility during fallow periods.

bulletStep #9: Manage livestock

If you’re raising livestock on your farm, you should outline your husbandry practices, feeding protocols, housing needs, and health management strategies.

bulletStep #10: Create a budget

As discussed above, you must have a budget that outlines the expected expenses and potential revenue of your operation.

Some of these expenses include seeds, fertilizers, labor, etc.

There will be both fixed and variable costs for your operation, and you should note both of these in your planning.

bulletStep #11: Hire labor

Who is helping to run your farm?

Determine whether you’ll manage the farm yourself (especially if it’s a small farm) or if you’ll require additional help.

bulletStep #12: Keep records

You’ll come to rely on data to make decisions as a landowner.

You can have all the data you need if you maintain detailed records of activities, expenses, yields, etc.

bulletStep #13: Prioritize environmental stewardship

As a farmer and landowner, you’re responsible for a portion of the Earth.

By integrating sustainability practices into your plan, you can reduce chemical usage, conserve water, and preserve natural habitats.

bulletStep #14: Get prepared for emergencies

No one likes to think about emergencies, but natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and other unforeseen events occur whether we want them to or not.

Consider how these events could impact your farm and how you’ll deal with them when they do.

bulletStep #15: Consider your implementation schedule

Create a timeline that outlines key activities and milestones that you’d like to achieve throughout the year.

Not sure what those are?

The easy ones to get on the calendar include planting, harvesting, maintenance, etc.

Remember, you can always add more later, but it can be helpful to lay out everything you know in the beginning!

bulletStep #16: Seek expert advice

Don’t be afraid to consult experts in your field!

Some examples include agronomists, extension services, or even peers who have been farming for longer.

You’ll want to seek out professionals who can provide both insights and guidance that are specific to your region and goals.

Industry experts have so much to offer you, so don’t be afraid to ask for help!

5. What other tips should landowners know about farm management?

If you’re eager for all the tips you can get when managing farmland, here’s some additional information you should keep in mind.

bulletDetermine how much help you’ll hire to help with farm management (if you’ll hire at all)

If you end up hiring, you’ll need to ensure fair labor practices and provide proper training

bulletInvest in farming equipment based on the specific crops or livestock that you’ve selected

bulletResearch and comply with local regulations, permits, and zoning requirements

bulletUnderstand property tax implications and any potential agricultural exemptions

bulletDevelop a marketing strategy to target potential customers and highlight the unique aspects of your farm

bulletMaintain detailed records of activities, expenses, yields, and other relevant data

bulletAttend workshops, seminars, and agricultural extension programs to stay informed about new techniques and technologies

bulletStay flexible and adapt your plans based on the weather patterns, market trends, unexpected challenges, or any other change in the situation

Final Thoughts

It may be daunting to put together a farm management plan in the beginning — especially if this is your first time owning property and using it for agriculture.

However, it’ll be much more difficult to achieve all these tasks if you don’t have a plan of action.

Create your farm management plan and then let it guide the best practices you use on your property!

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Erika Gokce Capital

Disclaimer: we are not lawyers, accountants or financial advisors and the information in this article is for informational purposes only. This article is based on our own research and experience and we do our best to keep it accurate and up-to-date, but it may contain errors. Please be sure to consult a legal or financial professional before making any investment decisions.

Erika

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