Cashmanager RURAL, a sward stick and body condition scoring – three simple ways to measure and monitor on-farm performance and drive decision making.
Pongaroa sheep and beef farmer and farm consultant, Rachel Joblin, says these are three critical tools farmers can utilise to help lift farm performance.
Rachel and her partner, Alistair Timothy, have been using Cashmanager RURAL in their own farming business for about 12 years, and she used the programme as a consultant when working with clients before that.
The couple purchased their current property, Arklow, in February 2006 and since 2009 have undertaken an extensive development programme. Rachel says Cashmanager RURAL has been key to budgeting and knowing what work they are able to do.
“We’re really strong budgeters and review our budget regularly. Throughout our development programme it’s been really important to plan what we can afford to spend on development in relation to our income for that particular year,” she says.
“As our income changes, we’re able to capture any opportunities to spend on development. Any upside normally goes into debt reduction or development.”
Arklow is 500 hectares (475ha effective) and they run a sheep breeding and finishing operation, trading cattle and lambing hoggets. They sell about 20% of lambs store.
Since 2009 they have drained 130ha, planted 90ha in plantain and clover mixes, doubled the number of paddocks, and built new main sheep yards, cattle yards and two sets of satellite yards.
By using Cashmanager RURAL they are able to spend as much as possible on development. Having a good handle on income and costs allows them to determine how large the development piece of the puzzle can be.
“It gives us confidence when we are talking to our banker that we know what our income is and what our other likely costs are.”
Rachel also uses the programme for completing two-monthly GST returns, and this is normally when she reviews the budget.
“The original budget is just a point in time. Income and expenses will change over time. We tend to do our initial budget in April or May so we are managing more like 15 months of information.
“It’s like operating in a dark room if you’re not reviewing regularly.”
In her consulting business, Summit Consulting, Rachel recommends clients use a budgeting tool, like Cashmanager RURAL, for the same reasons she uses it in her own business.
“It’s to confidently manage their finances across the year, but also so that I can see where their business is going, and to help them plan. It becomes a way to communicate their business to a third party.
“If they use Cashmanager RURAL it’s much timelier. If they’re waiting for the accountant to prepare the end of year statements a lot more water goes under the bridge in that time.”
Rachel says there are three things she would suggest a farmer should be using – Cashmanager RURAL, a sward stick and body condition scoring.
“That way they can measure and monitor their finances, their feed supply and their livestock condition for better outcomes and to make informed decisions with that information.
“It’s like a health check. If all three of those things are at or above where they need to be to achieve their desired outcomes, then they get the big healthy tick. If not, we can identify areas for improvement.”
She also likes the reports, particularly the Economic Farm Surplus (EFS) report, which is her ‘go to’ report. “It’s the first thing I look at. I like the EFS report because it gives a big picture view of what’s going on. The EFS and the stock reconciliation are key for us, and for clients.
“I look at the big picture and then work backwards to see how we can improve. I look at the EFS and then what’s affecting or contributing to the EFS.
“I have always found the Helpdesk to be amazing. And seeing the posts coming out of the new Rural Community forum now, I think it’s really adding value for farmers as well.”