The planting stage in a farmer’s year is a busy and important one. Without a successful planting, there can be no successful harvest. But the work does not end there! Though the summer is usually thought to be a time for fun and relaxation, farmers don’t stop and are hard at work on a number of crop and business management activities.
Crop Management Activities
When looking at crop management activities, farmers are spending the most time on weed management, with 92% of farmers spending at least some time on it, and 14% spending more than 40% of their time on it. Crop scouting, or walking the fields to ensure that plants are healthy and pest free while diagnosing those that aren’t, came in second with 87% of farmers spending at least some time on it. Other common activities include mowing, pest management, and applying fungicide. All of these activities show that farmers spend much of their time and energy combating outside threats to their crops.
Taking a deep dive into activities that take more than 10% of farmers time shows that farmers with under 20 years of experience are less likely than more experienced farmers to spend this much time on weed management and crop scouting, but more on fertilizing. This means that the focus of those with under 20 years experience appears to be prevention ahead of time, whereas more experienced farmers are dealing with problems as they arise.
Business Management Activities
As far as general business activities go, by far the most time is spent on equipment maintenance with 98% of farmers reporting that they spend some amount of time on this and 39% saying that they spend 11 or more hours on this. Equipment maintenance was also reported most frequently as requiring an increase in time vs last year (17% said they were spending more time this year vs last). Other high time activities include harvest planning, marketing (14% said increase), labor management, finance management (15% said increase), and field monitoring analysis (14% said increase). Technology updates were also reported by 13% of farmers to require an increase of time required vs last year.
When comparing farmers with different levels of experience however, you find that farmers with less than 20 years of experience are spending more hours on more things. They spend less time on equipment maintenance, harvest planning, and marketing, but on average, the percentage of farmers spending over 11 hours on each activity is higher on average by 6% vs those with 20 or more years of experience.
Looking Ahead, What are the Concerns
Farmers are faced with loads of uncertainty, from pricing to yields. This shows in their concerns – 44% of farmers said that weather was their top concern going into harvest. This was 28% higher than the next highest concern: market volatility (17% said this was their top concern). Both of these are uncontrollable factors that cannot be planned for. Weather can impact yields which can then change the supply and demand balance and move prices. This is a very difficult thing to manage when trying to plan for harvest and future years. When looking at other high ranking concerns, operations costs and high input costs rose to the top.
It’s Not All Work No Play
While farmers do work hard over the summer, there is also some time for play. Ninety percent of our farmers said that they had plans over the summer. Of those, 39% said that they would be taking a vacation and 34% said spending quality time with their families. Fishing (17%), fairs/conventions (14%), baseball games (12%), boating (12%), camping/hunting (12%), harvest preparation (12%), and renovations (12%) rose to the top as well.
When looking at farmers with over 20 years of experience, most things stayed consistent, but harvest preparation and renovations fell down the list while the recreational activities came up. For those with less than 20 years experience, they are more likely to be spending time on harvest preparations, renovations, and other farm related activities.
All of this information came from the Ag Pulse survey run by Ag Access amongst some of the 400,000+ members in the community. Ag Access runs Ag Pulse surveys multiple times a year to get to know its members better, with a goal of sharing that information out. If you’d like to keep up with these surveys, please subscribe to our blog below where future studies will continue to be published.
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