Heading into 2019 some GFN members were asked, “Have you set a goal for your farm or farming operation this year?”

Last week we posted a collection with a few sentences received from several GFN members to share and potentially inspire other farmers around the world as they consider what they can do on their farms this year to maximize the potential, the productivity and the profitability.

This week is a follow-up with some additional items and thoughts shared by folks around the world.  Remember, English is a second language for most GFN members (any light editing done has been only for clarification and readability).

If any other GFN members want to include something in the list, just pass it along to be added!

 

Lydia Sasu – GFN, Ghana (2015 Kleckner Award recipient)

We are planing to grow maize and support it with soybeans this year . This will let us control the climate change.

With Development Action Association, we are pleased to inform you that we have received a package of fertilizer from YARA  to support 300 women farmers in maize and rice production. The package include training on the use of the fertilizer.  This will increase the yield.

 

Benjamin Adewumi – GFN, Nigeria

It’s a great joy that the GFN is highly interested in the progress of its member, it means we are all working together.

I have been on 25 hectares of maize from some years back and it has been so good and profitable.

This planting season I am going to have another 25 hectares of soyabean because of the demand to supply soyabean from two end users of which is going to be another source of income to me this year.

 

Kees Huizinga – GFN, Ukraine

Happy new year.  Despite the facts:

  • that we are fighting a war in Ukraine with Russia,
  • fighting a fertilizer monopololy in Ukraine which increased fertilizer prices dramatically
  • and having problems receiving long term, normal priced financing,

We keep on building our dairy farm and vegetable farm to add value (if the milk prices are good) to our arable farm because I believe that adding value (dairy, vegetables, processing etc) creates jobs and stability for Ukraine.

 

Cherilyn Nagel – GFN Board, Canada

I have really enjoyed reading the goals for 2019 from fellow GFN farmers. Your hardships and challenges are often different in every region but we all continue to fight for a better industry. Good luck to everyone and remember to use your Global Farmer Network for encouragement.

After 3 difficult years on our grain farm we are preparing for another drought. Commodity prices have gone up slightly but the long term trend is not looking good. Combined with very dry soil and higher fertilizer and equipment costs we are bracing ourselves for a holdback year. Interest rates are on the rise and we are highly leveraged after many years of land expansion. There is optimism around higher protein needs globally and Canada is well equipped to supply both animal and pulse proteins. Our regulatory system is strong and we have safe abundant food that we hope to trade around the world. Fingers crossed that Mother Nature is kind to us during the 2019 growing season.

 

Ruramiso Mashumba – GFN, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is also experiencing fuel shortages due to challenges with currency . Currency has always been a headache for us.  We moved from USD to bond notes which only have value in Zimbabwe and are now devaluing and people want to move back to the USD which is now rated at 1:3 yet government say it should be 1:1.  Prices for inputs have hyped yet producer prices remain stagnant. One of the challenges we face as a country is our national import bill is very high. We importing everything and exporting very little. Which means we are in a deficient and government can’t finance it as well as we are running out of USD currency to import goods.

We also experiencing a bit of rain constraint in my area we getting rain once after 2 -3 weeks. Temps are high although crops are not yet too bad. On my farm I’ve almost completed installation of my pivot; I just need to source my own transformer as our power company said they don’t have capacity to do so and once I buy it for $10000 it becomes their’s as it’s state property. Few challenges there but we continue working towards producing food and feeding the nation

Our 2019 goal as Mnandi Africa is to be able to build a packhouse to process fresh vegetables and fruits . We also would like to support 250 women farmers in our community with capacity building , equipment hire and marketing of farm produce .

 

Marcos Guigou – GFN, Uruguay

Greetings from Uruguay.  It is very interesting this exchange on expectations and restrictions that we all have in our countries to do something that we are passionate about as much as agriculture.

In my case we come from a year 2017 that was very very dry in summer and generated great losses for agriculture but as this gives us rematch every 6 months, now we have finished the harvest of wheat, barley and canola with very good yields and our plantings summer (soy, corn and sorghum) are receiving very good rains, even too much!

We see as challenges for 2019, in addition to keeping the company in good working order, doing it taking care of the costs because Uruguay has a very high internal cost structure in comparison with the region (Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina). It is difficult but perhaps compared to the challenges that some of you have commented like war, fuel shortages, etc. are not so much.

In particular this year we will strive to start up a stronger system in precision agriculture that allows us to measure in our fields the gains in productivity by use of variable rate of plants adjusted by environment (in corn and wheat), and of some other adjustments in fertilization also by environment. In meat we are starting a project that aims to reach the final consumer with detailed information (traceability) of the entire process and hopefully in a few months a restaurant customer can sit down to try a wide steak and can with his phone know where that cut comes from, eat and feed that animal throughout his life and where he was.

My best wishes to all friends in this great project to bring farmers from around the world. 

 

Gina Gutierrez – GFN, Mexico (2018 Kleckner Award recipient)

Hello from Mexico!  A lot of challenges over here as well. As I type this, we are facing shortage of fuel in 7-8 states, including mine. I don’t think I’ve ever driven so slowly in my life. We are doing OK at the farm, and I think my cooperative is too; but there are other food supply chains that are already suffering fuel scarcity. Fruits and vegetables can’t be shipped away are going bad at warehouses. The US might have to face a Super Bowl without guacamole, because Michoacan state (largest producer) is severly affected, and their deadline (January 24-25) to start shipping 120,000 tons of avocado is getting close.

Our new government is our biggest challenge. Only time will tell.

With that, our plans at the farm to build a new barn for our dry cows remain, and we should start construction in the next couple of weeks. Another plan is to buy more shares from our company because we need more quota as our herd is growing without buying from outside, but that means taking a huge loan. We’ll see what our board has to say and hopefuly they have a better scenario than the one I’m imagining every day as I watch our news…

 

Roberto Peiretti – GFN Board, Argentina

Related to my expectation of changes and new goals at farming for 2019, I will be focusing in keep growing at incorporating more and more modern technologies and knowledge that at the end of the day allows me to simultaneously enlarge our total production by means of the achievement of a higher efficiency at the utilization of all the resources engaged in the farming production process.  At the same time all these goals should to be obtained in parallel with an incresing profit while at the same time minimizing the inherent variability and risk level at which we are allways exposed at farming. All these tagets have to be obtained within at least an ever growing sustainability scenario. In fact in this respect my goal is aimed to achieve an stage “positioned beyond sustainability” entering an improvement phase related to the resources engaged in the process. When I say this I mean those resources related to the human/social aspects that normally are closelly related with a better economic performance (as a “sinequanom” condition), plus also the improvement of the environmental components engaged the farming process. Actually and summarizing improving or impacting positively on the three main axes that constitute the pillars of the sustainability concept, namely: the environmental, the social and the economic axes.

Even all the targets described above appear as very ambitious targets to be aimed and achieved, I have clear evidences emerging from everyday real farming that running my farming opperation in the way I do, specially referring to the way that we manage our soil and other agroecosystem components, after more thatn 35 to 40 years of applying the No Till System Principles as the scenario where I incoporate all type of new technologies allways based on science and validated knowledge and practical experience at impleenting them at farming level, I am doing better every year. Hopes the future will keep this direction!

 

Mel Poulton – GFN, New Zealand

Kia Ora (Hello) from New Zealand, and happy new year to you all.

First, I admire the courage, tenacity and perseverance of those of you who are running farm businesses in the midst or very difficult circumstances outside your control.  We’re not really into new years resolutions per se, but we still have plenty of goals to achieve.  Our whole farm business in essence is focussed on maximising the conversion of sunlight, water, soil, nutrients and livestock performance, to meat and fibre (protein).

Without being too specific, our farm goals are about efficiencies: optimising productivity & reducing wastage.  This will translate to maximising kilograms of meat and fibre per kg of dry matter (from grass grown) (kgmf/kgDM) and return ($/kgmf).  This in turn builds equity.

As much as we do all we can to produce high quality product, strong wool is a sad tale, where returns are barely covering the cost of production.  We are shearing lambs this week.  The wool agent was out here yesturday trying to convince himself, and us, that wool prices look like they could be climbing – I’ll believe it, (or not), once I see the money in the bank!

The prices for meat are very strong right now and seem to be on a reasonably good trajectory.  Though the prices traditionally drop just when our stock come on the market, we’re still expecting the procurement market to be reasonably good this season, given the wet growthy Summer we’re experiencing.

Goals from a tech perspective, include doing more DNA chipping to trace parentage with one of our sheep flocks.

We are also working on more in the environment space… so will get a more detailed digital map and assessment of our hill country farm and its natural resources.  This is part of the Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI) for hill country farms.  The SLUI is effectively focussed on water quality by mitigating erosion and phosphorous as well as other nutrients.  Thankfully erosion is not a big issue on this farm, as for the most part, the parent material is Greywacke.  Nevertheless, it will be another tool in our toolbox for optimising resource efficiency here.  We will continue to fence off areas of the farm to plant with native trees, and some wetland areas.  This is part of a long term intergenerational project.

Take care this year.  Have fun.  Be wise. And wishing you success in all you do.

 

Jake Leguee, Leguee Farms – GFN, Canada

So great to hear everyone’s perspectives! That is the value of this group.  To echo Mel, many of you farm in challenging environments… environmentally and politically! Your perseverance is inspiring.

We don’t do new year’s resolutions on our farm, but we do have goals. We are bringing in a new partner to our farm, my brother-in-law, which is creating many changes to our succession plan. We are in the midst of developing a new strategic plan for our farm for the next 5, 10 and 25 years, with the hope of building an enduring business for many generations to come.

All of this revolves around profitability! We were fortunate in 2018 to have one of the biggest crops we have ever grown, but we must continue to move forward and innovate to ensure we remain competitive. In Western Canada, we are very far from the oceans, and most of our crops are exported. The logistical challenges in getting our crops to market cannot be understated; every kernel of wheat, canola, lentils and so on must travel thousands upon thousands of miles to reach its market. All this means we must be very diligent in watching our cost of production and carefully managing every aspect of our operation. We are continuing to improve our cost tracking to stay ahead of this and we are watching increasing interest rates very carefully.

We are currently dry with limited snow cover, so we are hoping for a wetter pattern to show up before planting starts in April. If this doesn’t change, 2019 will come with challenges, particularly in a low-price commodity environment.

 

Jennie Schmidt, Schmidt Farms Inc. – GFN, US -Maryland

I would be happy to send anyone who needs moisture some of my surplus. We received 76.5″ or 1943.1 mm in 2018… nearly double our normal average. It was one of the toughest farming years we have ever had.

 

Bill Crabtree – GFN, Australia

2018 was a good year on the farm, but disappointingly to us, the last rains did not come and some of the exciting yield potential was lost, but we are good to do it all again and face the ever-present risk of drought in our dry region and hopefully we will get at least the same crop rains again, of 160 mm for the growing season.

We are also about to embark on a February scout out trip to Africa to visit Ethiopia, Kenya (Rodney), Tanzania and Rwanda and then Ghana. I have been in touch with Dr Martin Fregene and he will tee up some Ghana meetings for us. With the Nigerian elections scheduled for February, Monique thinks that it is not a wise to visit there at present. Not sure if Patience or Chibuike will be in Ghana from 22-25th February – but that is likely the time that we will be there if you think that meeting up with us makes any sense. Patience, I am still keen to see what can be done with helping getting the genes you need, that are common in the USA into your country, which would snowball across all of Africa. Wherever I go I will be making this point to whomever has ears to hear.

May peace guide you in all the tricky decisions that you all make this year on your farms so that you can bless those with whom you live and work with.

 

Carol Keiser-Long – GFN Board, US – Florida

Happy New Year everyone from Florida; however, the Midwest is roots for my farming and cattle feeding activities. Ultimately, my New Year Resolutions are: to make good decisions, to do good things and to give back.

The Beef business was good in 2018 with our farmers and ranchers producing high quality beef. Beef demand was up 15% since 2015 according to National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA). My goal for 2019 is to continue investment in the beef industry and encourage consumer demand in all facets of the food industry. Issues of trade, food safety, antibiotic compliance, consumer preferences and renewable fuels require continued attention; thus, I am interested in staying focused in those areas.

 

Malwinder Singh Malhi – GFN, India

  • Maintain Farming data (USE of COMPUTER / MOBILE / INTERNET)

 

 

 

 

 

  • FOR INCRESE PROFIT- Seed Production with help of local seed producers/ Institution (tie up)
  • Seed Treatment Machine (Support from local dealers)
  • Management of Pesticides container (Separate)
  • Green Manuring (Soil) – Moong
  • Try to maintain four pillars – Right place, Right source, Right quantity and Right time.
  • Fertilizer Management (Soil Health Card)

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Good Spray Technology (on Hiring basis)
  • FENCING the farm- Fences are quite an effective wild animal protection

 

 

 

 

 

  • Small Vegetable Gardening
  • Few Fruits Plant specially Kinnow – 2 or 3 Plants
  • Beekeeping – Some Box for Beekeeping
  • Some flower Pots for beatifications

Some Experiments on Farm:

Straw management / Spray Technology (below)

Testing drones for spraying.