What skills should I have before I start farming? Well, if you want to get into agribusiness, having the right farming skills will go a long way in your success. Read on to see exactly what is required of you.
Agriculture is not only the main source of our food but also a key pillar in many world economies. Just like any other business or career, farming has its requirements, challenges, and benefits. And while many people might not consider it a worthwhile career, this sector has made a lot of money for some of the richest guys globally.
So, for a person intending to start an agribusiness, what farming skills do they need?
Besides raising the necessary capital, is there a specific agricultural skills list that one should fulfill?
Like with any other career, you need to possess certain farming skills to help you succeed in this sector.
And, if you don’t already possess the skills, it means that you should research widely to learn and understand things first before you dive all in.
What, therefore, are these specific requirements you should have to become a successful farmer?
Agricultural Skills Checklist
If you are a novice farmer starting on the farming path, these are some crucial farming skills you need to acquire.
1. Organizational skills
As mentioned earlier, farming is like any other business. This means that it has all the business dynamics, including cash flows, paperwork, machinery, employees, daily activities, etc. Organizational skills thus become a must-have to help you to maintain the smooth running of every operation.
If you can’t keep organized records or plan the day’s activities, even a simple farming business can prove quite challenging. A good farmer must know where every document concerning the farm is, as well as make it easy to locate them.
This includes everything from insurance records, payroll, certification paperwork, labor contracts, machinery service, repair schedules, etc. If you want to be a successful farmer, this is a farming skill that you must possess, especially for beginners or small-scale farmers.
For the big farms, however, you can certainly afford to employ a professional to do all your record-keeping, and help keep everything in order. But be careful; when hiring, only use reputable agriculture executive recruiting agencies to ensure you get qualified personnel. This will guarantee that all your farm’s records are safe and filed in an easy-to-locate manner.
However, when starting your journey, you’ll most likely be doing this yourself, thus the need to have this important skill.
2. Farm Operations Skills
Now that you have the farm and you’ve kicked off your operations, how do you manage what goes on in the farm?
For starters, farming is not automatic. This means that someone must be rolling up the wheels to ensure that everything is running in the right manner.
Whether it’s land preparation activities, planting, harvesting, or vaccination of animals, there are daily activities on the farm that must run smoothly. As a farmer, you must plan and know what activities each day entails and how they are being carried out.
This will be crucial both to your short-term and long-term goals and achievements. If you can’t manage the farm’s activities, you might end up not accomplishing your goals or hitting those farming targets.
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3. Animals and Crops Management Skills
Farming includes dealing with crops and animals. And whichever kind of farming you’re engaged in, whether animal rearing, growing crops, or both, you must understand it well.
This will ensure that you can raise healthy plants or animals that will generate profits for your business. In the long run, all we are targeting is to maximize profits.
Let’s say you are into crops farming; you must know the best types of seeds, where to get them, how to prepare the best growing conditions for them, etc. As I pointed earlier, farming is not all easy. It requires more than just putting the seeds on the ground and watching them grow.
For example, imagine you are doing aquaponics farming. You’ll need to choose the best aquaponics kits, know the best aquatic animals for maximum production, and identify the ideal crops for the project.
Better still, if you want to start a greenhouse farm, what types of crops will you grow, or which type of greenhouse best fits your farming needs. In essence, you must know how to farm before diving all in into the farming business.
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4. Technical/Mechanical Skills
While there are numerous farming skills examples, this one is quite crucial, especially for small-time farmers. With a small farm, you might not have a specialist in every department, right from IT specialists, farm managers, drivers, mechanics, etc.
This means that you must be ready to handle some of these tasks when they occur personally. For instance, if your greenhouse grow lights broke down, can you repair them to prevent plants’ damage?
Also, if it’s a big farm and the mechanic isn’t around, can you do simple maintenance on your farm’s machinery? Better still, are you savvy with computers and can feed in some records or even make some purchase orders?
Having some technical skills will help ensure that simple breakdowns don’t bring the entire farm’s operations to a standstill. This way, you can protect your profits in the long run.
5. Interpersonal/Communication Skills
Excellent interpersonal skills are vital for the success of any business, and farming is not an exception. As a farmer, you should know how to deal and relate with different people who affect your business in one way or the other.
These will include your employees, suppliers, consumers, other farmers, and partners if you have any.
You should be a good communicator to ensure that information is passed on well to whomever you relate with. And since you’ll be quiet with your crops or animals most of the time, you must take time to sharpen your interpersonal skills. This will help you greatly when it now comes to talking to people.
Remember, you cannot do it all alone. The success of your farm will depend largely on how you relate with people. It’s those people who will offer labor, assist you in getting the desired products (such as veterinaries), and finally consume your products.
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6. Practical Farming skills
Don’t be an all-theory person when it comes to farming. Possessing some practical skills in agriculture will come in handy in a big way. For instance, can you use the farm machinery and equipment, do some disease management on animals, set up a greenhouse, or spray those necessary pesticides on your crops?
These are vital farm skills that will take your farming career a long way. For this reason, even having the theoretical knowledge is not enough.
Before you dip both feet into farming, go for practical training on some of the main farming issues – depending on your type of farming.
Be sure that you can take care of your animals even without the help of a specialist – except on major issues. If you are doing crop farming, be sure that you can care for your plants in all aspects.
Whether it’s pesticide control, nutrients provision, cultivating, or harvesting, be a hands-on farmer.
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7. Value Addition Knowledge
When establishing any business, the end goal is, most often than not, getting a profit. It’s even unheard of for someone to start a business just for the sake of it – unless it’s a charity organization. Farming is the same!
Value addition is one way of ensuring that your products fetch you maximum profits. For this reason, having some value addition farming skills is quite beneficial.
This way, you can know what is needed to ensure that each phase of your production is optimized for the best results. Right from seed selection, disease control, nutrients addition, and provision of optimal environmental conditions, every stage adds to the final product’s success.
Having a clear understanding of this chain of events, as well as what is required, helps you minimize losses and maximize profits.
8. Be a Quick Learner
While it’s important you possess most of the necessary farming knowledge before you start a farm, you certainly can’t have it all. Farming involves a continuous learning process, as new farming methods and technology emerge every single day.
This means that you must be able to grasp everything new that comes your way as you go on. One thing is for sure; you’ll encounter new and challenging aspects of farming that you never knew existed. If you aren’t flexible and quick to adapt, you might be left behind by the competition or fail altogether.
This field will keep changing, and it doesn’t require anyone who is so rigid and not ready to incorporate new knowledge.
Learn, learn, learn every day for a successful farming business. This is one of the most important qualities of a good farmer.
9. Marketing Skills
This is a set of crucial skills needed for agriculture and any other field of business. But how? Anyone would ask!
Well, now that you’ve done everything right and raised the best crops or animals, how do you get it to the market?
How do consumers get to buy your farm produce and leave the ones offered by your competitors?
This is where marketing skills come in handy. While some people might argue that good products will automatically sell, it’s not always the case. The assumption might work for a few small farmers, but you need your products to be known if you are doing this as a business.
If you don’t want to harvest impressive products that end up spoiling in your granaries, you must create awareness in the market.
Even the most ideal products may make a minimum impact in the market if proper marketing is not done. This is especially where competition is intense.
So, polish up your marketing skills by learning more. There are numerous online resources that can help you in this.
Things to Know Before Getting Into Farming
Farming is a Business
While some people do it as a hobby, pass-time, or simply survival, farming can be like any other business. In fact, it is one of the most profitable businesses globally.
This is because almost everything we need for survival comes from farming. The clothes we wear, food, and shelters all come from agriculture. This means that when done right, it can fetch you quite good amounts of money.
Farming Can be Done Professionally
Farming is no longer the dirty job we once knew. Technology and education have come to turn this field around. With automated equipment, advanced technology, and change in perception, you can do farming like a professional.
Just like being a lawyer, an accountant, or a doctor, a farmer is also a professional in their own capacity. Especially with all the education and skills required for its success, farming is even more profound than most professions.
Farmers are Now Smarter
Unlike in the past, where farming was done on a small scale or just for sustenance, farmers have now become more of problem solvers. Most of them are smart, tech-savvy, researchers, and incredible entrepreneurs.
In fact, around 70% of large scale farmers are well educated, with college diplomas, degrees, and trade certification. This brings a completely new perception of farming. Many farmers have specialized in agronomy and animal science, although others have done business and other subjects.