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Ready to Scale Your Small Farm? Here’s How!

| January 25, 2023 | By

From the moment the first seed is planted, a small farm has the potential to grow in both complexity and size. In many ways, the rate of growth depends on you. By making smart investments and improving your processes with technology tailor-made for farms, you can keep growing at a speed that works for you.

This blog post will discuss the steps you can take immediately to scale your farm and watch it grow.

How to Scale Your Small Farm For Growth

Most farms are small. According to the US Department of Agriculture, a small farm has a gross cash farm income (GCFI) of under $350,000 per year. Small farms represent 89 percent of all US farms and about 18 percent of total US farm production.

When you’re ready to scale your farming operation for greater profit and a larger share of the country’s farm production, use these small farm business ideas to make your growth a reality:

Pace Yourself

Although you can grow your small farm by purchasing large-scale warehouses and land parcels, you can also scale at a modest pace through gradual expansions. One farmer grew his family farm from 100 acres to a 2,000-acre operation serving families, restaurants, and retail outlets, but he did it slowly and methodically. Instead of purchasing industrial-sized facilities, he grew with the help of do-it-yourself innovations and warehouse additions. By pacing his growth, he conserved cash while increasing his profit margin over time.

Look For Operating Efficiencies

Scaling your farming operation requires making the best use of available resources and looking for ways to increase efficiency everywhere you can. For example, as your farm grows and adds more laborers, you will likely outgrow some old practices, such as using paper timesheets and work schedules posted in a central location.

As your labor force and land footprint grow, you’ll need a labor management solution to automate the time-tracking process and give you more insight into the productivity of your farm and workers. With the right solution, you can track employee work hours, harvesting activities, and quality control metrics.

Formalize Your Contingency Plans

External factors such as weather changes, inflation, and supply chain delays can be challenging for farms trying to scale. High fertilizer costs, drought, and difficulties obtaining equipment replacement parts can put extra strain on your farm. Some farms are unable to shoulder the weight of these challenges. In 2021 alone, the US lost 6,950 farms.

To survive these challenging times, create contingency plans that outline your “Plan B” should you encounter unexpected challenges. Although insurance may protect you from catastrophes such as fires, vandalism, or even the sudden appearance of invasive species, it can’t save your farm from every calamity.

On the other hand, contingency planning allows you to stay calm when a crisis strikes. It can help you identify alternate sources of fertilizer when your usual supplier experiences delays. It can guide how you’ll react if early summer rains thwart your crop spraying plans or a late spring frost interrupts your harvesting schedule. Overall, it provides you with peace of mind.

Develop a Sustainable Procurement Plan

As prices for equipment, chemicals, and other essentials continue to rise, where you buy can be just as important as what you buy and when. When you scale your small farm, you’ll probably need to expand beyond the handful of suppliers you’ve been using.

To ensure you’re not limited to just one or two suppliers, develop a procurement plan that outlines where you can purchase the essentials. The plan should spell out your annual procurement schedule and identify potential backups you can call on when your preferred suppliers run out of items or suffer supply chain mishaps.

Get Your Farm Ready For Accelerated Growth

Scaling your farm requires equal parts planning, technology, and partnership. When all these elements come together, you’ll see sustained growth in your land and your bottom line.

If you want real-time tools to monitor the productivity of your farm operations, FieldClock data collection and management tools are there to help. For more insights, subscribe to our blog.