10 Steps for Setting Your Farm Operation Up for Success in 2024

FBN Network

Dec 28, 2023

We’re coming into the lull — that time between autumn harvest and upcoming planting, when many farmers are thrilled to have a little breathing room but are already chomping at the bit to get rolling again. So, while it’s still too cold to get out in the fields, what should you be doing right now to plan effectively for next season?

Here are 10 ideas for how to spend the winter months in your office preparing for next season.

1. Analyze Your Spending

Knowing your budget on a field-by-field basis can help you make better decisions for the upcoming season. Take some time to look over, and really understand, your numbers from the year. Make note of the areas where you spent money that increased yield and where you spent money that didn’t. 

[Looking for an Excel template to review your budget? Check out the Balance Sheet Template or the Cash Flow Template from FBN® Finance here.]

2. Review Leases and Consider Farmland Purchases

If you lease property, review the terms of the lease. It’s important to be aware of your responsibilities. While many leases are only valid for one year, consult your paperwork to see when the lease expires so that you are aware of the exact dates you will need to either renew or terminate. 

[Considering a future land purchase? Download our free guide 10 Questions to Ask Before Buying Farmland.] 

3. Review Insurance Policies

Many insurance plans have annual policies. Review your policies to ensure that you have the coverage you need for the upcoming year. Keep in mind that you may need different insurance policies to protect your crops, your livestock, your family's health, and your workers.

See the links below for more information:

4. Make a New Budget

As you get a handle on where your wins were last year and the state of your lease and insurance policies, you can pull together your budget for next season. Seed, ag chem, and fertilizer will be major players, and crop insurance, land payments, and equipment costs should all get a line as well. 

Don’t forget to include the potential spends you’re thinking about, but haven’t settled on, such as a late-season fungicide shot or an emergency insecticide pass.

Consider what it will take to maximize profits and yields. Don’t get hung up on how to put in the cheapest crop.

[Need an operating line to help fund input and other purchases as you prepare for next season? Learn more about financing solutions in the Operating Line 101 Guide.]

5. Conduct Annual Performance Reviews of Your Workers 

While you’re evaluating your wins and losses on the farm, consider the impact of your farm workers. Prepare your feedback and then schedule one-on-one time with each worker.

The following questions can help you prepare your feedback:

  • Have they met their basic job requirements?

  • What are some examples of when they went above and beyond?

  • What were some of the wins they contributed to?

  • Where do they need improvement?

This should be a conversation in which the worker has the opportunity to share their ideas for the farm as well. Help empower your workers by providing them with education and training. 

Reviews are often the time in which raises are given. Make sure you’re paying a fair market rate

6. Plan Your Marketing Strategy 

Budgeting and marketing are two sides of the same coin. Once you’ve established a budget, you have a baseline for how you should approach marketing your crop. 

Consider all your possible delivery points and contract options. Take advantage of your on-farm storage capabilities, if you have them, to get the best prices outside the harvest delivery window.

7. Inspect Equipment and Perform Maintenance

Since it’s probably been a full season since you used your planting equipment, now would be an excellent time to give it a good once-over. Think back to any issues or breakdowns you had last year, and make sure they’re resolved before your planter hits the field. 

Calibrate your meters to ensure proper singulation and plant spacing. Almost all of what you can control about yield happens before the planter leaves the field, so give yourself every opportunity for success.

[Download the free Equipment Winter Maintenance Checklist here.]

8. Purchase the Products You Need

Begin purchasing the products that you will need for the upcoming planting season. This could include: 

By purchasing ahead of time, you’ll have peace of mind that you have what you need to get started as soon as planting season begins.

[Discover why this is a strategic time to buy in this related blog post.]

9. Make a Rough Schedule for the Full Crop-Production Year 

Establish a rough, season-long schedule that allows you to maximize your planting, in-season, and harvest windows. Consider all that will need to be accomplished, estimate the time you will need to tackle each task, and note when you want to start and complete them. 

You may want to include the following in your schedule:

10. Remember to Be Flexible

At the end of the day, farming happens outdoors, and we can’t control environmental conditions. While establishing and following a plan is essential to having a successful season, we never know when Mother Nature may have something else in mind. 

Start the season with best-made-plans, but expect to pivot when necessary. Being prepared to make changes can help you manage through a whirlwind season.

Grow Your Ag Operation in 2024

You’ve worked hard to make your ag operation a success, and now as you plan the next season, you’re ready to take it to the next level. FBN Finance has the ag lending solutions you need to grow your farm operation.

We are dedicated to family farms. With low overhead, a national network, and competitive rates, FBN Finance has helped farmers save thousands of dollars. FBN Finance offers:

  • Farm land loans

  • Farm operating lines

  • Farm equipment loans

  • Farm capital 

  • Input financing

You have dreams of scaling your ag business. We want to help you achieve them in 2024. Contact our team today by calling 866-551-3950 or filling out this form to see what's possible.

Related Resources

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FBN Network

Dec 28, 2023

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