By Bruce McCorkindale
A periodic strategic review of your farming operation is a way to analyse how each aspect of the business is performing and uncover opportunities for continuous improvement.
The results of the process can be surprising and currently the best analysis tool is Farmax.
Farmax is a farm modelling tool developed in New Zealand with decades of NZ research on animal and pasture performance built in. It is loaded with financial information that allows forecasting of both financial and biological results – bringing clarity and direction to your farming business.
Farm consultants cannot foresee every single factor when it comes to predicting the best outcomes and recommendations from reviewing a client’s farm system.
It is the process of analysis where the knowledge and experience of capable farmers, and skills and knowledge of the farm consultant, come together to provide options for improvement.
Farmax can then be used to model the complexity and variables in the farm system, and predict the biological and financial outcomes so we can see where the potential opportunities and benefits lie.
We start by using Farmax to build a model of your property that represents how it is currently performing. We do this by taking a long-term view that takes out unusual seasonal variations.
The next step is using Farmax to calculate annual pasture production, perhaps split around different blocks where properties have different land classes, and in doing so, we can review production patterns. These patterns could then support decision-making around changes to enterprises that might better match feed supply or options for increasing feed supply at certain times.
Once the base model “behaves” the same way your farm does, we can begin to look at the potential impacts of changes with a high degree of confidence that the outcomes are achievable. At this point we can look at pretty much any sheep, beef or deer enterprise that you, or we, can think of.
Farmax gives a detailed report for each of your enterprises - highlighting all aspects of your livestock performance, identifying opportunities for improvement, and detailing financial performance both as an overall financial result and the return per kg of feed eaten.
We can analyse the impact of any change to cropping systems i.e. simulating a drought or other seasonal growth variations to test options for dealing with these. By doing this, we are able to see the potential profitability of all the alternatives as well as how they match seasonal feed supply and what refinements are needed to make it work.
The results can be quite outstanding and regularly show achievable gains of $30- 100,000 per annum from medium-sized sheep and beef properties after making refinements to the whole farm system.
While there will usually be a degree of investment required, the returns are likely to be high and achievable within three years.
If you are considering a farm development project, purchase of additional land, or irrigation development, then Farmax is the right tool for you.
Farmax is able to account for all the complex biology of your animal and pasture systems, and financial projections, in a way that is almost impossible to achieve with a pen, paper and calculator.
Bruce McCorkindale and Simon Glennie from AbacusBio are both registered Farmax consultants.