Better Efficiency at Your Family Farm
It starts with Monitoring and Evaluation
Effective monitoring and evaluation at a farm operation is challenging, but it’s vital for tracking and measuring results and understanding the impact of production. There is a lot of information on monitoring and evaluation as a tool in project work, and there is no shortage of guidelines on the subject. Applying that information to your farm operation can sometimes be challenging.
Successful guidelines for monitoring your farm operation start with understanding the difference between value-add vs. non-value-add. A simple explanation of value-added activity is something your customer is willing to pay for, and non-value-add are activities that do not add value to the process.
An example most of us can relate to in the spring is planting; the only value-add is the time the planter drops the seed into the ground. However, many steps occur in preparation for planting that must be done to get those results. Waste, or “non-value-added” activities, is often baked into those steps – such as movement of seed to different locations, going from the seed tender to the planter, the planter waiting for a tender wagon to arrive, waiting for fuel, moving from field to field (travel time), and unscheduled equipment breakdowns. I’m sure you can think of even more examples of this at your own operation.
How can you reduce your non-value-added activities? We have a few areas to monitor as your 2014 crop cycle unfolds:
- Monitor your fuel consumption by individual equipment. PetroVend 100 from OPW allows the growing farm to quickly analyze where fuel costs are going by employee and asset.
- Monitor your weather conditions and field readiness. Climate Corp’s Climate Basic will allow you to accurately ascertain your next field to plant or harvest without leaving your office, especially useful for field locations that may be an hour or more away from the shop.
- Monitor your inputs by all your production activity in real time. This can be done in an automated process using tools from organizations like Conservis Corp. One module has the ability to manage production from anywhere with purchases, inventory and activities accessible at a glance. Easily analyze the impact of decisions and smoothly share information with outside partners and accounting systems.
- Monitor ideal hours. Not only are there fuel cost implications but avoiding end of season lease rate overage hours can easily account for 14-18% savings. The My John Deere website can help you monitor your equipment fuel, ideal hours, equipment location, in row planting speeds, travel speeds and now even weather.
- Monitor employee results by providing a daily drum beat of your operation’s goals and expectations, e.g. daily planted acres = 300 ac/day. This provides the rhythm for the farm operation, and as a manager it is your responsibility to remove the obstacles hindering your staff from achieving this performance. Most employees want to do a good job if given reasonable goals and some latitude to achieve these goals, but without monitoring and timely feedback your plan will go astray.
Those are just a few ideas that you can easily implement at your operation. If you need some help, there are expert consultants at FamilyFarms Group. Our goal is not to take over in any of these areas, but to help you get a better handle on how to implement managing practices. Contact us to learn about other ways to improve your operation.
From Team Operations Manager, Lynn Glatt