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The ordinary management of the medium-large farm
Farm management and the importance of field activities control is a very important topic in agricultural economics and Information Technology applied to agriculture. In fact, this subject has direct links with company’s activities, since correct agronomic and economic management determines the company’s sustainability, both in economic, environmental and social terms.
In recent years, efforts have been made to apply a new paradigm to farm management. It is characterized by:
greater attention to interaction with the surrounding area (i.e. environmental impact),
changes in distribution systems,
greater commitment to product quality and plantation conditions.
The aim of good farm management is to meet the growing demands for cost reduction and compliance with the various regulations applied to agricultural production, while maintaining high quality standards and food safety of the product.
This change was also encouraged by public administrations and consumers, who influenced the agricultural sector to change the focus of production: from quantity to quality and sustainability.
The average size of farms is increasing
In Europe, each company manages an average of 16.1 hectares of Utilised Agricultural Land (UAA) (Eurostat data, 2013). The Czech Republic has the highest utilised agricultural area in Europe, 120 ha per holding, followed by United Kingdom, Slovenia, Denmark and Luxembourg, France and Germany, where the average UAA is well over 50 ha.
From 2007 to 2013, the number of farms with UAA > 50 increased from just under 700,000 in 2007 to over 725,000 in 2013, in a scenario where the total number of farms in Europe fell from almost 10 million in 2007 to just over 7 million in 2013 (Eurostat data).
The trend for farms is therefore to increase the UAA to be managed.
Farm management according to FAO
FAO speaks extensively about farm management in several publications, including: “Farm Management for Asia: a Systems Approach” (FAO Farm Systems Management Series – 13).
Here FAO explains: “Except when it serves a descriptive purpose, farm management is the science (and art) of optimizing the use of resources in the farm component of farm-households […]. This implies obtaining maximum possible net benefit over time from the operation of the farm system”.
The agency of the United Nations says “Farm management operates in four modes:
Mode 1 encompasses routine operational and control activities. It is concerned with the day-to-day operation and management of an actual farm, estate, cooperative or other farm-based producing/marketing entity […]
Mode 2 refers to descriptive activities whereby farm management provides a conceptual framework for the study, understanding and description of farm systems or farm-related problems […]
Mode 3 refers to diagnostic activities concerned with the identification of problems and weaknesses in farm-level systems […]. Such problem diagnosis includes the identification of potential opportunities. […]
Mode 4 refers to prescriptive activities in which farm management is aimed at the prescription of action plans for both (a) the overcoming of problems or weaknesses and (b) the seizing of opportunities uncovered in Mode 3 (diagnostic) analysis”.
Detailed knowledge of the activities carried out in the field is therefore essential. For this reason, especially in medium-large farms, where many people collaborate in field activities, it is often difficult for the technician or the owner to keep track of information on individual crop operations.
Having an easily accessible historical archive of the operations carried out in different seasons is an important element in farm management and planning.
Agricolus as a support tool for managing the farm
The basis for all decisions that lead to major changes in farm activities is effective record keeping and control of basic agricultural operations. Therefore, by simplifying routine control, you optimize your business choices in the medium and long term.
Agricolus is the platform for precision farming that meets the needs of medium-large farms: the Crop Operationsfeature offers a valuable support to register easily and effectively where, how and when different operations such as irrigation, treatments and fertilization have been carried out.
In this way all farms, from the simplest to the most complex, where there are several operators in the field and/or a large number of hectares to manage, are able to easily keep track of the operations carried out.
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