Logo

Lean farming can make agricultural operations more effective: experts

Lean farming has the power to make agricultural operations more effective and improve profit margins – but it requires a radical shift in thinking, said Conor Colgan, farmer and business consultant who has spent the last 10 years pioneering lean farming methods as a result of his MBA Masters Thesis

lean farmingPrinciples of lean farming implemented via Value Stream Maps at Aidansfield. (Image source: 4Sight Farming)

He’s turned his 800-acre mixed farming business, Aidansfield in Northumberland, into a state-of-the-art beef and cereal research facility underpinned by lean thinking, complete with precision technology and automated operations.

He grows 630 acres of combinable crops and keeps 140 pedigree Salers cows on 165 acres of grassland.

Colgan hosted a group from 4Sight Farming, a KTIF-funded project to look at the true cost of production when fixed costs are allocated in real-time to a crop. As well as recording labour and machinery hours for analysis and benchmarking, the 30 arable farmers in Scotland are involved in discussion groups assessing different management principles to maximise profitability, including lean farming.

“By looking at your business as a whole ecosystem rather than each process in silos, it eliminates elements that are not adding value to the quality of your delivery. Lean thinking can introduce more predictability into your business and give you the confidence to make management and investment decisions,” Colgan stated.

As well as a tour of the new lean-designed farm steading and research facilities - which are a vehicle for farmers, supply companies and processors to trial new methods, Colgan introduced the group to Value Stream Mapping, the intrinsic methodology to lean farming.

He used VSM data from his own enterprises to begin a discussion on how management and investment decisions can be improved with a full grasp of process time, the nature of fixed and variable costs, and their relationship to produce quality delivery.

Eric Anderson, director of Scottish Agronomy and 4Sight Farming project founder, said, “Lean is a term often used in manufacturing businesses, and this visit has given a valuable practical insight into how it can be applied to an arable or mixed enterprise. It has prompted greater consideration for the relationship between the business’ fixed costs with variable costs and where you can eliminate ‘waste’ in unnecessary activity to streamline your business, without compromising on quality.”

Angus arable and potato farmer Hugh Black said, “It has given me a greater understanding of how we can extend the lean approach from start to end in our business - rather than in isolated processes - in order to drive greater overall efficiency and value. It’s a shift in mindset and the visit and surrounding discussion has given me the confidence to move forward.”


LATEST NEWS IN Agriculture

African food imports bill predicted to double by 2030

African food imports bill predicted to d…

Experts have warned that the cost of Africa’s yearly food imports could increase from US$50bn to US$110bn by 2030 if immediate measures aren’t taken to increase food production

Wildlife and forestry sector in the spotlight

Wildlife and forestry sector in the spot…

On August 22, the 23rd session of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission, hosted by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo opened in Kinshasa, putting the future...

Boosting investment for Africa-made cotton

Boosting investment for Africa-made cott…

At a partner’s conference on cotton, jointly organised with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), donors were urged to mobilise resources for new partnerships.   

Nature-based solutions help farmers in Ghana

Nature-based solutions help farmers in G…

Organic pesticides, waste-based fertilisers and forest regeneration are just a few of the green initiatives being employed in Ghana to boost farming communities’ resilience to the impacts of climate...

Boosting soil nutrient mapping in sub-Saharan Africa

Boosting soil nutrient mapping in sub-Sa…

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is set to fast track an impact-oriented project in sub-Saharan Africa and Central America for digital soil nutrient mapping, after...

Gambia-Korea partnership seeks to double rice production to curb food insecurity

Gambia-Korea partnership seeks to double…

President Adama Barrow has received a delegation led by the Korean Ambassador to The Gambia, HE Kim Ji-Joon, at the State House in Banjul to announce the delivery of sample rice...

Prev Next

OTHER RELATED ARTICLES - Agriculture

Zimbabwe's smallholder irrigation receives international funding

Zimbabwe's smallholder irrigation receiv…

Zimbabwe's smallholder irrigation sector has received a US$25.5mn grant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

FAO’s global action to control fall armyworm outbreaks

FAO’s global action to control fall army…

FAO has advanced global action to control the spread and damage of fall armyworm, a voracious invasive species that is ravaging crops in Africa, Asia and the Near East

New bill to protect plant breeding in Rwanda

New bill to protect plant breeding in Rw…

The Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) has drafted a bill seeking to promote development of new crop varieties in the central African country

ZNFU warns maize production to decline in Zambia

ZNFU warns maize production to decline i…

The Zambian government has predicted that a reduction in maize production is eminent following the announcement of the 2012-13 crop forecast results

EU’s F2F strategy to produce a more sustainable food system

EU’s F2F strategy to produce a more sust…

Andre Laperrière, executive director of Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), has commented that the EU’s Farm-to-Fork strategy is crucial for a sustainable future

Zambia’s agriculture sector helps drive economic growth

Zambia’s agriculture sector helps drive …

Agriculture has been identified as one of the main economic drivers that helped drive a seven per cent increase in Zambia’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012

Common farming practices drain the soil of carbon: Rothamsted Research

Common farming practices drain the soil …

Rothamsted Research scientists have demonstrated that common farming practices drain the soil of carbon, altering the structure of soils’ microscopic habitat and the genetics of microbes living within it

Côte d’Ivoire to host African Green Revolution Forum 2017

Côte d’Ivoire to host African Green Revo…

Côte d’Ivoire has been announced as the host of this year’s African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) (AGRF.org), hailed as premier continental agriculture gathering, to be held on 4-8 September 2017

Maize deliveries start in Zimbabwe despite low production levels

Maize deliveries start in Zimbabwe despi…

The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) in Zimbabwe has begun collecting maize deliveries from farmers across the country despite low levels of the crop being produced compared to the previous season

‘Thermaculture process more effective than pesticides per acre’

‘Thermaculture process more effective th…

After a two-year study, Caltech Ag Scientists has revealed that Agrothermal Systems® heat-treatments can be equal or more effective than pesticides and are used at lower costs per acre

How to prevent downy mildew in rose stems

How to prevent downy mildew in rose stem…

Dr Lisbeth Riis, founder and CEO at Scarab Solutions, has discussed how tackling downy mildew requires preventive measures, effective scouting, early intervention and regularly executed control

Maize crop virus threatens Kenyan food security

Maize crop virus threatens Kenyan food s…

Food security in Kenya has been threatened by a maize crop disease that has destroyed the entire season's harvest in the South Rift Valley

Prev Next

Template Design © Joomla Templates | GavickPro. All rights reserved.