Farm management involves making and implementation of the decisions involved in organizing and operating a farm for maximum production and profit. It draws on agricultural economics for information on prices, markets, agricultural policy, and economic institutions such as leasing and credit. It also draws on plant and animal sciences for information on soils, seed, and fertilizer, on control of weeds, insects, and disease, and on rations and breeding.
Farm management is the collective term for various management strategies and methods that are employed to keep a farm productive and profitable. The process of this type of management is often associated with large commercial farms, although many of the same methods can be used with equal success on a small family-owned farm. Depending on the size of the operation, the management process may require the services of a single farm manager or a group of managers who oversee various aspects of the overall project.
Scope of Farm management
Farm management as a field concentrates on the study of individual farm; thus, it comes under Micro-economics. Farm management covers the following aspects:
Research: The study of problems faced by the farmers and proffering solutions.
Education: This is concerned with transfer of knowledge to students. This knowledge includes, farm resources inventory and farm layout, understanding market needs, farm planning and budgeting, resource mobilization, implementation of farm plans, monitoring and control. Micro-economics principles, natural and human resource management, financial management and accounting, are covered in farm management.
Extension: This covers various methods of technology transfer. This includes use of integrated farm systems and use of improved varieties and technologies to maximize productivity.
Farm management treats every farm as a separate unit because of differences in the availability of resources, problems and potentialities. The main concern of farm management is the farm as a unit. Farm management deals with the allocation of inputs at the level of individual farms. The objective of farm management is to maximize returns from the farm as a whole. It is interested in the profitability along with practicability. What crops, livestock enterprises and their combination to grow, what amount of resources to be applied, how the various farm activities to be performed, etc., all these fall within the scope of farm management.
Importance of Farm management
Farm managers are responsible for the daily planning, organization, supervision and administration of activities on farm estates. Typical responsibilities include: forward planning organizing sales and purchases of livestock, farm equipment, crops and agricultural products.
Professional farm management services ensures productive cropland is profitable on multiple levels by producing food to the growing population and also providing intermittent cash flow with stable appreciation.
A key part of the farm manager's duties are their relations with the tenant operator. Choosing the appropriate operator can make or break an investment in farmland. Even one mismanaged year of farming can cause significant damage to a property.
Farm managers’ work with farmers to ensure planting was successful and the correct seed varieties were planted for the climate forecasted during the upcoming growing period. Throughout the planting season, farm managers keep in contact with operators to note how the crops are progressing which will help build a strong historical file for the property.
Other numerous responsibilities of farm managers includes:
- Plan finances and production to maintain farm progress against budget parameters
- Undertake practical activities, such as driving tractors, operating machinery, feeding livestock or spraying fields
- Market the farm's products
- Buy supplies, such as fertilizer and seeds
- Arrange the maintenance and repair of farm buildings, machinery and equipment
- Plan activities for trainee staff, mentoring and monitoring them
- Maintain and monitor the quality of yield, whether livestock or crops
- Understand the implications of the weather and make contingency plans
- Make sure products are ready for deadlines, such as auctions and markets
- Ensure that farm activities comply with government regulations
- Monitor animal health and welfare, including liaising with vets
- Maintain knowledge of pests and diseases and an understanding of how they spread and how to treat them
- Apply health and safety standards across the farm estate
- Protect the environment and maintaining biodiversity
- Keep financial records up to date
- Apply for funding - if appropriate.
Educational Requirements for Farm Management Careers
A bachelor's degree in agriculture, agronomy, animal science, or dairy science is recommended for aspiring farm managers.
College graduates may need experience as assistant managers or management trainees before being promoted to farm managers.
Skills and Competencies Required for Farm Management Careers
There are important competencies and skills needed by farm management graduates to excel in the field. They include
- A knowledge of food production and an awareness of customer demand, food standards and sustainability
- Organisational and time-management skills
- The ability to work under pressure
- Supervisory skills and management ability
- Numerical aptitude
- Willingness to be outside in all weathers and patience to undertake all sorts of practical, sometimes repetitive jobs
- Self-motivation, with the ability to motivate others
- Larger-scale business awareness
- Negotiation skills
- Genuine commitment to farming
- Good technical knowledge
- A good understanding of modern farming methods
- A commitment to animal welfare
- An understanding of the ways in which farming impacts the environment.
- Good communication
- Analytical skills
- Commercial awareness
- IT skills
- The ability to apply technical knowledge of the environment and legislation/public policy matters in a practical environment
- Marketing and sales skills
- Teamwork and leadership
Career Opportunities for Farm Management Graduates
- Agricultural crop farm managers
- Agricultural managers
- Animal husbandry managers
- Aquaculture farm managers
- Beef farm operators
- Christmas tree farm managers
- Dairy farm managers
- Estates manager
- Agricultural Consultant
- Farmers and ranchers
- Fish hatchery managers
- Greenhouse managers
- Hatchery managers
- Horticultural specialty farmers and managers
- Livestock managers
- Livestock, dairy, and poultry farmers, ranchers, and managers
- Nursery and greenhouse managers
- Nursery managers
- Orchard managers
- Poultry managers