As cereal crops complete their change from green to golden, the smartest of farms across the UK are flexing their farm kit ready for harvest 2015. However the highest performing businesses will be making sure they look at how to make the most of their manpower as well.

Team Talk using JVFG data

“A week or two weeks before harvest we have a serious get-together “ says Edward Hitchcock of Pelham Farming Company Limited. Preparing the team for harvest is a key part of the business approach to the task of quickly, efficiently and profitably harvesting over 6500 acres in Essex and Hertfordshire.

Edward Hitchcock, Pelham Farming Company Ltd

Pre-harvest team building essential for smooth harvest, says Edward Hitchcock, Pelham Farming

“We always try for about the middle of July and this year it will be over two days in mid July. We get everybody in the room and go through everything.  We’ll be using some of the JVFG group results and going through the data in detail to instil in all the team what we need to achieve and what we expect of each and every one of them.”

Benchmarked targets to hit

Being in JVFG means that only does each member business record all use of labour and machinery for key operations but they benchmark – make comparisons – across the group of what to improve or, in the case of Pelham Farming, to remain ahead on.

“We set certain target dates as well as output which is important.  I find people always strive to meet the target, especially when they have felt part of the process of setting it. And when you say we need to up the anti, because it’s been raining or whatever, people can always see why and what we are aiming for.”

Maintaining the momentum

Combining: Team Effort

Combining: Team Effort

“The beauty of our joint venture system, and how we are set up, is that it’s a ten week slog.’” says Edward, with a smile, “so you can always see the end of it.” But he recognises that peak performance will only be achieved if the drive to be the best continues. So even when the pressure of harvest is in the past Team Pelham gets together again.

“At the end of harvest, and after the busy period in in the autumn, we have a debrief session to ask ‘well, how did we do?’. That’s important too. I think you need to slap people on the back and tell them they did a good job.”

Maximising manpower and machine

Team Pelham Farming learnining important first aid skills

Team Pelham Farming all learn important first aid skills

Whatever the machinery the farm has at hand this harvest what matters most is the manpower and the mindset that is driving it, believes Hitchcock.

“Labour and staffing are key to good performance. Having the right people in the right place and heading for the right target is crucially important.”