How to reduce costs while running a farm

Operating a farm can become a costly affair, especially with the myriad of factors affecting farms’ profitability. However, there are various production costs that a farmer can adequately take control of to maximize profits. Some small adjustments can have a huge impact on farming costs, particularly in this era when farmers are confronted with back breaking break-even challenges.

Here are some tips that farmers can use to cut down costs during harvesting and accentuate the meager profits.

Accurate harvest timing

Timing of harvest is probably the most critical aspect in managing harvesting costs. Poor timing results in increased cost and low revenues due to yield losses. Once the desired moisture levels are attained, harvesting should commence immediately since waiting for the crop to dry naturally in the field does not save any costs. As the season progresses, outdoor temperatures start dropping; thus, lesser moisture is removed from the crop while on the farm. Ultimately this increases cost because you will need more energy to heat the incoming air since temperatures are colder. It is a misconception that waiting for grains to dry on the farm saves on drying costs. Accurate timing ensures harvesting is done entirely on all harvestable acres since partial harvesting can be expensive, especially if you have to hire machinery.

For example, a simple way to save money if you sell farm products online is to use a tool that manages deliveries for you. Less time on the computer means more time growing and harvesting your crop.

Evaluate machinery needs

Evaluating the kind of equipment such as kernal processors that your farm requires is essential to avoid making mistakes that could cost you a great deal. Making informed decisions begins by identifying the reason for acquiring or replacing machinery on your farm. Some factors to consider when making decisions about farm machinery include long run costs, reliability, capacity, tax implications, and obsolescence, among others. It is recommended that as much as possible, instead of purchasing new machines, farmers should prioritize maintenance issues on existing machines as this is likely to cut costs. It is prudent to ensure equipment matches the size of the farm. It makes little economic sense to have a large machine for a small farm and vice versa. In whichever case, there are huge cost implications. 

Dryer temperatures

Though it seems almost obvious that running a dryer at lower temperatures could save fuel costs, the contrary is true. Running a dryer at maximum temperature minimizes cost as high dryer temperatures increase energy efficiency and boost drying speed, thus drying more yield in a shorter period. Moreover, lowering plenum temperatures in the dryer towards the end of the season to economize on fuel is a fallacy. Sometimes farmers think they can lower the temperatures since they are removing only 3 to 4 points of moisture. However, it is worth noting that the amount of energy needed for drying is approximately 20% less when using high temperatures. 

Post-harvest Storage

Once the produce is harvested, farmers must identify the best storage to avoid yield wastage. There are various post-harvest storage innovations available depending on the kind of crop that the farmer is growing. In the case of cereals, metal silos and hermetic bags are some storage methods that have been used successfully to store grains.

Metal silos are cylindrical structures commonly made from galvanized steel sheets with an opening at the top for filling the grains and another one at the bottom for removing the grains. They are placed inside a storage room and placed on wooden bases raised 15 centimeters above the ground level. Before storage, the grains are selected, shelled, and cleaned for extended shelf life.

Appropriate storage relieves the farmer of the anxiety of selling the produce soon after harvesting and gives him the chance to sell during the lean season when prices are favorable, increasing profits. Proper storage, such as hermetic technology, does not require the grains to be treated for weevils and other crop-damaging insects, which reduces the cost of chemicals. 

In the end, there are critical decisions that a farmer must make to realize profits from his farm.

Brett Sartorial

Brett is a business journalist with a focus on corporate strategy and leadership. With over 15 years of experience covering the corporate world, Brett has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, analytical and insightful journalist. He has a deep understanding of the business strategies and leadership principles that drive the world's most successful companies, and is able to explain them in a clear and compelling way. Throughout his career, Brett has interviewed some of the most influential business leaders and has covered major business events such as the World Economic Forum and the Davos. He is also a regular contributor to leading business publications and has won several awards for his work.