Advice fresh from the farm

Getting advice from fellow farmers, agronomists and specialists in all areas of agriculture is never a bad thing.

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The more advice the better. But, I think the important thing is to filter the advice given to you, and to plan and strategize your farming enterprise properly according to the advice that best applies to your farming business.

As a young, inexperienced farmer, this is sometimes easier said than done. You have to learn to chew on the meat and throw out the bones.

Primary producers, more often than not, spend money on inputs that are already marked up. Whether it be feed, seed, fertiliser, fencing equipment, or whatever your farming enterprise needs. You’re buying the product at a marked up price to produce a product that will start a whole new financial cycle from the farm gate all the way up the value chain to the end consumer.

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Sales reps work on commission, but just because they are motivated to sell to you doesn’t mean their advice isn’t valid They know their product well, and do give good advice.

They will show you exactly how to use the product properly, and you might even get a discount in the process. Agronomists and specialists in the various areas of agriculture will also give you great advice. Their knowledge of specific crops, and animal production is vast, and they are able to put production management programmes together for you to implement according to your exact needs.

The programmes they structure for you are the result of years of testing, trial and error, successes and hard (expensive) lessons learnt. That information is vital for a young farmer to digest, and should in theory lead to success. But at the end the day, with all that they can offer a young farmer, they cannot be held accountable for your cash flow.

In my experience, the best people to trust for advice are successful, experienced farmers who farm in your area, under the same conditions, with the same crops, facing similar obstacles.

They have had first-hand experience in animal husbandry. Very importantly, they have a much better understanding of the rewards, financial and personal, and also the risks than you will encounter as a young farmer. They are people who have spent a lifetime farming, and the fact that they are still around is testament to their success and knowledge.

They no doubt wear the face of a well-groomed farmer, and when you shake their hand you know you’re not getting advice from someone who has spent their days sitting behind a desk. They might appear cynical at times, but this is probably due to years of experience that have taught them to be cautious.