Farm management: Learn how to do proper record keeping on your farm

No management without measurement is a well-known saying among farmers. After all, how can a farmer know where he can improve, where he is losing money, or making money, without the right information at his fingertips?

Farm records play an important part in farm management, says Michael Cordes,’s experienced farm consultant. “Farm records can easily get out of hand if not controlled properly,” says Mike.

A simple task like finding an invoice can take the longest time in an office where books, pamphlets, tools, small change and computers are all jumbled together on a desk that looks as if it has just been hit by a typhoon. “This farmer will not manage his business properly because he can’t measure anything; not even his own performance,” Mike adds.


Start simply. An open bookcase with three or four shelves will store your files. If you don’t have a bookcase, make one from a few straight, fairly wide, wooden planks and use bricks as supports.

Set the files on the shelf neatly and in a logical order and arrange them by category. Neat and tidy means everything is easy to find, and it looks better, which immediately makes you feel better.

An untidy mess in the office is depressing and makes you feel less like working. When you’re farming, there is always a good reason to turn your back on a mucky office and head for the lands.

A neat and tidy work space, precisely labelled files in the bookcase and general order puts you in a good mood, and motivates you to get the work done. When you can work effectively you save time and money. Makes sense doesn’t it.

If you don’t have a bookcase with open shelves make one using bricks and planks. This one is fairly big – it could have been smaller but sawing the planks would have taken me more time


Production – The production file contains your daily crop and livestock working records.

In the livestock production file use one page per animal type per day. On this page you will have Description of animal; Number of animals; Age groups; Vaccinations; Dosing and Dipping programmes; Treatments (for various problems eg lameness, problems post calving or lambing); Feeding programmes and date of programme start; Feed rations per animal and per group; Grazing rotations per camp for farmers who have fenced grazing; Weight recording.

In the crop production file use one page per crop per day. Record Crop name; Block number of specific area in land or field; Area planted; Date and description of land preparation; Planting date; Irrigation schedule; Fertiliser programme; Pest, disease and weed control date; Date of harvest; Yield per area.

In crop production, use one page per crop per day.

Marketing – The marketing file is for daily working records of what you have sold.

Livestock sales will need one page per animal type.

On this page you will have Date of sale; Name of auction or client; Sold off the farm – name of animal and buyer; Number of animals sold; Description of animals sold (eg 8 cull cows average weight 450kg); Price per animal and price per kg; Total money received.

Crop sales – use one page per crop and record Date sold; Description of crop sold; Market or client; Sold off the farm – name of buyer; Quantities sold; Price per unit (box or bag); Price per kg; Total money received.

A desk and a chair complete the office. The laptop is a very nice tool for a farmer, but it must also have the necessary software which can be expensive for a start-up or for a small operation. The cell phone is an essential. Farmers use their cell phones for banking, checking the markets, looking at the weather, networking with other farmers, ordering seed and a host of other activities.

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