Grains Research and Development

Date: 01.01.2000

$$$ And Sense

Photo of a farmer

The new year brings a new cycle of planning for dryland croppers. Paddock planners are widely used to set out coming cropping activities, but how often do you reflect on the 'big picture' and how well you are achieving it?

Farm businesses are made up of people, finances and the farms themselves. It's a juggling act and you can't always achieve everything you'd like to. You need to check that what you want to achieve in the big picture is linked with what you are doing in the paddock. Check this out by asking yourself some questions.

The questions to ask are those that help make a difference to your business. Questions like "Do you get $2 back for every dollar spent on the farm?" help focus on main business areas such as cost control.

Knowing the right questions shows what is important to measure.

You need to ask questions about the people, finances, and the farm itself. Are your hours worked effective in producing dollars? Is low investment in machinery limiting your opportunities? Is your production system right for your soil and climate?

Use questions to check your business NOW and WHERE you want to go (the big picture). This helps to plan HOW you'll do it.

You need to know how well you are doing NOW. Knowing what your business is and having some gauges to see how things are going increase your control. Business gauges are like speedo and fuel gauges in vehicles — vehicles run without them, but you can have problems not seeing what is going on.

If you choose gauges comparable with other businesses, you can see your business strengths and weaknesses. BizCheck and FAST help you compare with other businesses. BizCheck is a simple benchmarking tool available to farmer groups as a TOPCROP module, and the GRDC-supported FAST National project monitors the profitability of emerging farming systems.

Knowing WHERE you want to take your business in the future also needs checking. The people, finances and physical parts of the farm all require some goalposts to aim for. Then use the gauges to check how well you do, over time.

For further information contact Rod Luke on 03 5441 4821.