Get ready for 2010 – your top 12 resolutions (Part 4)

Getting good advice and acting on it is crucial to keep a business at the top of its game. Suzie Horne gleaned twelve top tips for 2010 from the experts.

10. Spend time on soil before you spend money on machinery

Get a new spade.

Digging to subsoil depth sometime in the next two months can tell you a lot about soil structure. Too often, cultivations are carried out without first identifying what the problem is, leading to either the wrong the job being done or too much being spent on metal and fuel to achieve the same job with less power.

If you are looking at changing cultivation machinery, look at machines which can replace the power harrow. The power harrow creates a good seed-bed but at the cost of poor soil structure at rooting depth, particularly when wet. Newer machines are available which seem to do the same job but with less compaction.

Simon Draper, Simon Draper Agronomy

11. Aim for better budgeting

Too few farm businesses draw up an accurate and realistic budget.

Better budgeting for the 2010 crop will help the business run more smoothly with fewer surprises. Predicting and monitoring cash flow will also be crucial. Good budgeting helps to anticipate profits more accurately, which in turn helps in assessing the level of affordable reinvestment.

Providing actual versus budgeted figures to lenders regularly should highlight any variances, which may be purely down to timing. Keeping the lender up to date should help secure additional funding should the need arise – too many farmers see their borrowing as an “us and them” situation.

Richard Levin, Brown & Co

12. Check for environmental damage cover

Are you fully insured against the risk of environmental damage and the consequent clean-up costs?

The Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2009 were introduced in March 2009 and impose very serious obligations on all farms to avoid potential pollution incidents and environmental damage. Even on the best run units, accidents occasionally happen, such as liquid fertiliser or fuel escaping from a tank or an accident with a sprayer on the road or in the field.

Most farm insurance policies do not provide this cover as standard. However, stand-alone specialist farm environmental liability cover can be arranged which covers gradual pollution as well as clean-up costs, which can be substantial.

Nigel Wellings, Farmers & Mercantile