In this article, Nick Graeen outlines ten agricultural strategies to increase income.
Farming is tough as farmers are variables such as favourable weather conditions like the right amount of rain at the right time of the year.
For example, farmers who grow cereal or legume crops need the first rains in late April through May to wet the soil for tilling.
This stimulates weed growth that needs to be killed to plant the grains without compromising the nutrients they get from the soil.
The rain needs to be regular throughout the growing season, and then they need good sunny days to complete the growing stage.
During this stage, good rains are again required, and then again nice sunny days to complete the process of ripening the harvest during Summer. With so many variables involved, the entire process is risky.
The Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine and the war have resulted in destruction, displacement of people, and economic havoc.
The economic consequences of the war are worldwide. Ukraine is a major oilseed and grain exporter.
Hence the prospect of a reduced supply of grains and oilseed to the world market has resulted in a sharp increase in its price.
The price of fossil fuels has also risen sharply. The war is surely impacting the agricultural sector and increasing the production cost.
However, the output price will also increase; hence the net impact on producers remains uncertain.
However, the ESRI expects the economic growth in Ireland to remain positive with a modified domestic demand forecast which will increase by 5.0% in 2022 and by 4.5% in 2023.
Also, as per ESRI, the conflict has fuelled higher inflation, which is now forecast to average 6.7% in Ireland in 2022 and 5% in 2023.
A few modifications in agricultural strategy are a great way to boost income and grow your profit margins.
Plant different crops:
Farmers sometimes fall into the rut of relying on the same crop type year after year.
This increases the risk of failure if the crops do not grow well. Instead of relying on one variety of plantations, planting different crops can ensure that you have a backup option to fall on. Select plants that can be sold off in your local community for a profit.
Animal husbandry is an excellent second source of income for farmers, and it is also a reliable income source.
Rearing animals like sheep can be really profitable for farmers. Though the average gross margin per hectare in 2022 for sheep farms is forecast to decline by over 5% to €700/ha as per Teagasc.
Whereas the average Irish dairy farm could see a net margin per ha and income level in 2022 broadly in line with the 2021 figure which is about 1800 euro per hectare.
Dairy farming is a great option to consider, as it does not have as many hurdles as the plantation.
On the other hand, the average gross margin on cattle finishing farms in 2022 is forecast to be similar to 2021 due to the farms in the top-third of profitability which is nearly 600 euro per ha.
Just to get a bit of extra help, you can make use of cattle herding dogs and livestock guarding dogs.
These dogs are of the working kind and are an essential choice for herding and guarding your cattle, sheep, chickens, and goats against predators.
They are also good at keeping rodents out of the barn and feed storage. To know more about farming dogs, read more.
Lease advanced machinery:
The better use of machinery means less labour involvement. This also helps save time, which means you can increase crop production and increase your income.
If you cannot afford the cost of the machinery, then lease it.
Shift towards high-value crops:
High-value crops provide higher net returns per hectare to the farmer than high-yielding winter rice.
These may include hybrid maize, potatoes, vegetables, spices, and fruits. Hence, shifting your production towards these crops can help automatically increase your income.
You also need to keep in mind the local eating habits to understand if what you yield will sell quickly.
Increase cropping intensity:
Cropping intensity is the number of times a crop is planted per year in a given agricultural area. It is the ratio of effective crop area harvested to the physical area.
The greater number of times you can plant the crop, it equals the increase in production, hence income. This means never letting your field lie idle.
Lease the field:
If by any chance a part of your field is idle or you are not planting crops in a particular season, instead of letting the land stand idle, lease it to someone willing for a few months.
This will become a study source of income as the idle land also is not helping you raise your income.
Reducing the cost of cultivation:
Many farmers do not realize this till it is too late. They overuse fertilizers hoping that increased use of them will increase the yield. This is not just untrue but also risky as it increases the risk of diseases in crops.
For example, nitrogen fertilizer is essential in rice production and needs to be applied several times during the growing season to ensure that enough of it is supplies during the critical growth stage.
The Leaf Color Chart (LCC) , which has been jointly developed by International Rice Research Institution (IRRI) and Philippines Rice Research Institution (PhilliRice), is used to determine the N fertilizer needs of rice crops. LCC has four green strips, and the colour ranges from to dark green.
It determines the greenness of the rice leaf, which indicates its N content. Once you learn how much fertilizer is needed by learning the leaf colour chart to determine the amount of nutrients required by the plants, it reduces the cost of fertilizer and also saves the plant itself.
Reducing post-harvest losses:
Post-harvest losses can be one of the major yield losses, as the farmer loses time, money, and all the hard work that had been put into farming for months.
In some cases, the losses can rise up to 80% of the full harvested crop; hence you need to plan the storage carefully.
Use pesticides to protect the crop from pests and ensure that the moisture in the storage area is at optimum levels that can reduce the damage in post-harvest storage.
By increasing yield:
Increasing yield is one of the main things that can help increase any farmer’s income.
There are many ways you can do this though. You can start by planting disease-resistant plant varieties so that they can withstand diseases and do not cause any loss.
You can also choose a high-yielding crop or the varieties of crop that can do particularly well in the soil or the environmental conditions, which can create a huge impact on the yield.
The duration of the planted crop is also an important factor to consider. If you live in a region where there is less water availability, then planting a crop that needs a longer duration may not be suitable. You need to choose a fast-growing crop instead.
Do not forget to overlook simple issues such as weed removal, as it can cause yield loss, and yet many farmers forget all about it.
Application of nutrients and pesticides should also be done at optimum periods.
Sowing and harvesting are non-monetary inputs that are really important and need to be done at an optimum time period.
Also, the provision of timely irrigation is essential that helps reduce the period of crops and improves the yield.
By increasing knowledge:
It is never too late to learn something new. With new technology emerging that can help farmers, they should always indulge in keeping themselves updated.
There are tonnes of content that they can read online to gain more knowledge in this field. Remember to rely on reliable sources.
The bottom line:
Several factors impact the price of the harvest, such as environmental factors like droughts, floods, and fires, that have a great impact on their income.
The farmer may be working really hard, but their income is determined by weather, environment, and global commodity prices.
The global production of a crop determines global commodity prices. If it is high, then the prices can go very low.
With so many variables in such a competing market, it is tough to grow a farmer’s income.
But with, the proper knowledge and application of it, can be beneficial for him in the long run.
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