Important Skills to Be A Successful Farmer
There are some key skills and attributes to be a successful farmer, that are more important than others. If you're considering farming as your business, I think you should “invest” in these skills.
If you never manage your checkbook balance, you'll be easier to get a crazy shock by your unorganised system. Farmers must keep all kinds of records accurately, regularly. From clients invoices to certification papers to taxation to labor contracts to payroll and so on. You're going to need all kinds of paperwork to be organised.
If organising is not something you can keep on doing on a daily basis, you can hire someone later, or at least invest in some good software. However, in the beginning, you must have to do it by yourself before delegate it to someone.
Even if you're just running a small or even micro (less than a thousand-meter square) farms with fewer people to manage, management skills can be helpful for you. Management skills can be used to keep yourself in check, allow you to manage your business better (such as customers and buyer agents), and of course, come in handy with the employees you have.
Growing crops or caring for livestock sure are important skills for farmers. However, all profitable farmers also need business skills that will help you go beyond. As a farmer, you might have to be dealing with banks and other financial issues, dealing with marketings and promotions stuff, and much more. You also have to be doing mundane and boring stuff like budget planning and balancing, paying bills, hiring employees, keeping records, planning for growing seasons, building a company website, designing marketing materials and more.
A lot of job in farming is practical, such as growing, harvesting, and packing. But a great amount of your time will also be spent on doing the business side to make sure you can make a living out of it.
Having interpersonal skills is a must for most successful business owners, including farmers. In fact, farmers need to work harder on this because not every customer know how about specific growing method such as organics or hydroponics. Other than that, you'll also need to communicate with other farmers, labors, ranch owners, agricultural managers, government agents, bank agents, buyers, customers, and more.
Effective communication skills can help you to thrive, to be able to debate and explain nicely and to be people person where everyone loves to hang out with.
Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills
Almost anyone can learn how to grow crops or manage livestock, even if they aren't coming from agricultural background or farmer families. But good analytical skills can help you tackle problems effectively, thinking issues through and finding the root causes, and doing your tasks well. For example, in the ever-changing agricultural landscape, a farmer will use their comprehensive skills to monitor and assess the quality of their lands, crops, livestock, and to solve problems as they arise.
And as a farmer, having critical thinking skills will help you to solve problems as fast as you can before it brings you damage you can't recover later. For example, how can you figure your way around tough weather conditions appropriately?
Great analytical and critical thinking skills will allow you to analyse toughest situations, gather new information, and create solutions that are out of the norms. You can't and won't be able to solve every problem on the farm with only textbooks.
A Mechanical and Systematic Mind
Although it's not entirely necessary for farmers, learning to become more mechanical and systematical minded is extremely useful and can save you money and time. Most farmers need some machine operation skills, especially those who are working on smaller farms where labors are limited and there's not always someone to be around to fix things.
Having a systematic mind can also very helpful. For example, how can you figure out the best way to install drip irrigation to save you money on water and electricity? Or how you can have a better understanding of how long it takes for a crop to be grown on the field on a certain season? It sure will be different depends on what months and seasons you're growing in.
Life Long Learner
If you have no interest in pursuing lifelong education and new experiences, then farming is not for you. Farmers will always have to learn new skills and update current skills. Learning can come in many forms. Many farmers train under more experienced farmers. College can be an option, too, but it will costs you more money. Books, conferences, meetups, apprenticeships, workshop classes, keeping current trends, and learning by doing are great ways to stay updated and remain knowledgeable, even as time changes.
A Cool Head
No matter how crazy out there in the field, a cool head and the ability to think and work under pressure are important. Any kind of business will bring its own pressure and ups and downs. You'll not only have to face climate change and long working hours but also fierce competitions.
If you can learn early on how to stay chill when things get rough, your mental and physical health will fare better in the long run.
Finally, if you're missing one of the key skill above, no worries. It doesn't mean that you'll never be a farmer. It simply means that you just have to improve where you're lack thereof.
Tania is an open source farm management software project hosted on GitHub. You can support this project by