January is the traditional time for making new year’s resolutions and while making more profit will be high on many farmers list of aspirations, few actually make a plan to achieve the goal.
This special supplement deals with the main issues affecting profit that farmers can plan for. Andy Doyle starts with the basics – your soil. He outlines in detail what tillage and grassland farmers should be doing now to improve soil fertility.
He says it all starts with soil sampling. For most farmers, now is the ideal time to take soil samples as it is more than three months since the last application of fertiliser.
And while travelling land with a fertiliser spreader is just a distant hope at present, it is important to take the samples before spreading compound phosphorus and potash fertiliser.
Elsewhere, Adam Woods looks at the five steps to filling in a profit monitor.
Only a small proportion of farmers fill in a profit monitor and miss out on the excellent data generated.
By benchmarking your financial performance against your peers, you can easily identify areas for improvement.
Farmers need to assemble the information required in the profit monitor for their accountant anyway, so inputting these figures into the profit monitor sheet is not a big ordeal.
While the profit monitor is not without its failings, namely not adequately accounting for own or family labour, it is a good tool for comparing performance between farms. You cannot adequately plan for 2018 without knowing performance in 2017.
Labour continues to be a big issue on many farms, but particularly on dairy farms. Aidan Brennan looks at how much the system of farming can influence the workload, up to 80%.
Results of a recent labour survey show that if the most inefficient farmers adopted the practices of the most efficient, they could double the number of cows they are milking and not work any longer.
This is a staggering finding, and it shows how much of labour efficiency is within the farmer’s control.
With spring calving just around the corner, now is the time to be putting preparations in place. Calf feeding is often the most time-consuming task in the spring.
The good news is that there are plenty of innovations to reduce the workload. Investments in low-cost, time-saving tools are good investments.
Five new year's resolutions on beef farms
What you should look at when drawing up a farm plan