Thirty minutes is all it takes to radically improve your business efficiency and profits. It may sound a big claim but that is all the time it can take to get the essentials from the Joint Venture Farming Group’s latest analysis of labour and machinery costs from Autumn 2103. JVFG members Antony Pearce and Jamie Gwatkin are happy to talk to farmer groups and discussion clubs to explain the cost savings, efficiency improvements and profit increases to be made.
A session to shape a farm’s future
Give thirty minutes or an hour to JVFG and they will come and share the compelling evidence they have from the group’s benchmarking across over 25,000 acres of farmland. “When farmers hear the tips we have to share and see the data we have from all the farms in our group”, says JVFG Chairman Antony Pearce, “they will influence their future farming policy”.
Choosing the right tractor
Machinery choice and use comes under scrutiny of Jamie Gwatkin, consultant to the JVFG.
“The problem with the costs of the large tractor is that you only use it for a peak period of time and then put it in the shed. These days you have to think about other ways of extending the working period for these tractors because they cost over a £100 an hour in some cases just for the cost of the machine. So by using them for different scenarios and extending the working time of the machines you will drive down costs.” Antony Pearce offers an example from his own farm in Oxfordshire, “A good example is my farm where my lead tractor also does the fertiliser spreading and grain carting. The combination of two tasks means that it does an extra 150 hours a year and has a dramatic effect on the costs.”
Getting better combine harvester performance
Looking to harvest 2014 JVFG can give important targets for combine harvester performance with news about how great an acreage you can put through the combine. “Everyone these days talks you can only put 1,500 acres through a combine” says Jamie Gwatkin, “but there are people in the JVFG group who are putting 2,100 acres through their combine. So it’s setting the levels to which you can push machinery to perform for you”.
Keeping records to analyse costs
The starting point for analysing a farm’s performance is accurate data. It needs data that is consistently collected and collated. It need not be an onerous task, says Antony Pearce. “We can outline the processes to capture the data you need to do this kind of analysis on your own. We’re not necessarily saying you need to join the JVFG but at least we can show you how to capture your data – time sheets and diesel records etc – and take the basic steps that will enable you to manage your costs.”
Farming to Formula One levels of focus
“Generally speaking establishment costs for the crops of 2014 are better than the last 3 years”, reports Jamie Gwatkin. “The weather was better and also the 2013 harvest was quite late and therefore people were very focussed on getting the harvest in as efficiently as possible plus getting the crop established as soon as possible. And discussing with the JVFG members we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s like a Formula One racing car. If you get on the grid and focus on getting everything right that actually leads you to perform and manage your costs far better.”
If you are interested in inviting Jamie Gwatkin or Antony Pearce to make a thought provoking and positive presentation to your farming group then do get in touch with JVFG.