Operate a Successful Farm: How To Build Efficiency Into Your Operation
Running a farm is challenging. You must monitor and respond to events you can control and those you cannot. Successful farming operations are best managed as an enterprise, including a business plan and SWOT analysis. These tools allow you to document your goals and describe procedures for resolving issues that can impact your business. Here are some things to help you define your farm’s business plan.
Track Water Use
Water is your most valuable natural resource. However, managing the irrigation systems on your farm takes time and technology. Implementing smart farming technologies, such as Lumo irrigation technology, provides flexibility and information about water usage. With an easy-to-use mobile app, you prescribe the volume of water delivered to your plants. You can monitor real-time weather patterns and make modifications based on your crops’ needs. When the appropriate water volume is reached, the valve closes. Dynamic reports also allow you to monitor water consumption time. This information is vital in areas where water use is regulated.
Conserve Natural Resources
In addition to water management, efficient crop maintenance involves the management of natural resources, such as soil, animals, and fuel consumption. Small farms are in an ideal position to design their farms for natural resource maintenance. You can implement policies such as:
- Improving soil quality by planting cover crops
- Managing soil nutrients by growing forest crops
- Calculating accurate grazing requirements for livestock
- Repurposing livestock manure into fertilizer for use or sale
- Planting vegetative borders around fields to reduce soil erosion
- Purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles and machinery
Research the Market
Thorough market research helps you be more successful. Start by evaluating your business goals. Your specialty largely determines what crops you plant. For example, if you are trying to source herbs to develop proprietary spice blends, look for herbs and spices that grow best in your zone. If you plan to produce a crop that does not typically thrive in your growing area, investigate accommodations, such as temporary greenhouses, portable heaters, or soil amendments.
Bring in the Bugs
Butterflies, ladybugs, and honeybees provide natural crop pollination. Conscientious farm design helps you attract and retain these pollinators. Once these populations are established, they will return to your farm annually and pollinate your crops for increased yield. Some common ways to make your farm pollinator-friendly include:
- Growing host plants where butterflies lay eggs
- Offering low-growing plants that ladybugs eat
- Building Field borders and hedgerows provide shelter for pollinators
- Establishing honeybee colonies with bees donated by local beekeepers
Consider selling your products at your local farmer’s market. You can build relationships with other farmers in your community. You also meet residents and show support for your local economy. Some farmers sell complementary products at their table, helping other companies. For example, you can partner with a local beekeeper that harvests honey from your hives. You can then sell the local honey and share a portion of the profit.
Meet Your Neighbors
A stable support system helps you build a successful farm. While online tutorials and books can help you design and manage your farm, personal mentorships are designed to help your business grow. The SCORE database matches you with mentors that can meet with you online or in person and provide information and support. Eventually, you can pay it forward by serving as a mentor to another entrepreneurial farmer.
Research the agriculture departments at local universities. They can provide information about farm and resource management in your area. In addition, they typically offer fee-based classes providing more in-depth information on topics that may benefit you. You can also participate in academic research designed to improve farming practices nationwide. If nearby colleges do not have a local extension, you can broaden your search for universities that offer similar opportunities online.
When you take the time to make these plans, you are building a solid foundation for your company. Managing these aspects of your farm’s operations helps you establish a successful enterprise.