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How to Start a Farm: Staff and Equipment

Planning for the staffing and equipment your farm will require must be a significant planning activity. Thinking through how much you will produce and what you will produce are necessary to make these decisions.

Capacity Decisions

The initial production capacity of your farm, no matter what you plan to produce, is a key determinant of how much staffing and equipment will be required. If you plan to scale up quickly you may need to overstaff at times in order to be ready to move forward. If you plan to reach a consistent, profitable production level and to stay there, you will be able to want to be as efficient as possible in that production. By thinking through how labor and machine time can be conserved you may be able to reduce your projections on needed staffing and equipment and save thousands or tens of thousands of dollars per year.

Skilled Labor and Specialized Equipment

The more types of crops or products you will produce, the more you will have to divide labor among different skilled workers and buy specialized equipment for the productions activities. Certain products may require equipment which can serve for only that product and no others. For example, large-scale milk production must require milk harvesting, refrigeration, and processing equipment. Other crops and products may allow for equipment which can be used for other purposes, should the need arise. Tractors and grain harvesting equipment should be able to work for many types of crops, for example.

If you plan to produce multiple crops on your farm, consider whether you can reduce costs by sharing the same workers over these crops. Also, certain crops may simply require work which is more difficult to master than others. The more experience or training required to produce any given product, the higher the cost will be to you, whether through higher wages to attract experienced help or through the training time needed.

Want more tips? Here's a related article: Farm Business Plan

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