Looking at 97 figures
THE one good thing about the end-of-year accounts is that it provides the farm manager with more information about his business than he ever thought possible.
For some years now, freelance farm secretary Meg Cowap has punched in our data to produce management accounts using the Farmplan Business Manager program.
This year it was with some fear and trepidation that we awaited the result. Not because we expected to be caught out by falling prices and depressed markets but because we had rashly installed a new computer a week before the year end.
The new machine is a Compaq Deskpro 2000 MMX, 32mb RAM with a 2gb hard disk loaded with Windows 95 and internet access and complete with a CD Rom.
In short, its all singing and dancing, which is what we thought three years ago when we purchased its predecessor.
Had we not sent our computer away to Farmplan to have FWi loaded we may have jogged along for a bit longer but, unfortunately, our hard disk had reached saturation point.
All went well
Enough of this technical jargon – suffice to say all was well on the day and Mrs Cowap returned home after a long nine-hour day filled with coffee and mince pies leaving piles of computer listing paper on my desk.
Analysing and reporting on the accounts is an article in itself and for this we shall reserve space in the new year when accountants Deloitte & Touche have had a chance to prepare their report and financial statements.
I have drawn up the tables from the overhead costs identifying individual machinery repair costs, which make interesting reading and can be compared with similar costs over a five-year period.
Table 1 shows the total machinery repair costs for farm vehicles, tractors and all land and other equipment used on the 242ha (598 acres) arable farm.
In 1993 we commenced a 10-year programme of planned machinery investment starting with the new Fendt 395 systems tractor, power harrow/drill combination unit, 20m sprayer and secondhand JCB Loadall.
Since then we have purchased a four-furrow vari-width reversible plough and furrow press, a new baler, primary cultivation disc harrows, 20m pneumatic fertiliser spreader and, in 1995, a secondhand 120mph Fendt 312 with only 1700hr on the clock.
We have gradually managed to replace most of our ageing front line equipment over the past four years, which had a marked effect on our total repair bill in 1996, falling from a high in 1995 of £63.87/ha (£25.85/acre) to £34.08/ha (£13.80/acre). Last year, regrettably, has seen an increase of nearly £2000 to £42.14/ha (£17.05/acre).
The main reason for this reverse in trend was the need for a reconditioned gear box in our Land Rover Discovery TDI which, together with an 85,000 mile service, cost £2156 last summer.
Up to that point our Land Rover had given us comparatively trouble-free motoring and has, to date, clocked up 100,440 miles. The vehicle is regularly dealt with by TMS at Melton Mowbray who give service second to none.
When you add that to the costs of running our old Peugeot 405 pick up truck the vehicles are consistently biting into the overall repair budget to the tune of 33%. This is almost identical to the average percentage costs attributable to the tractors and Loadall.
Both Fendt tractors are serviced by the authorised dealer, A T Houghton of Leicester, every 1000hr, with interim services carried out at 250hr by farm foreman David Cham.
The less important Ford 6610 now with more than 6000hr on the clock and the JCB Loadall are maintained by ourselves in the farm workshop.
Table 1: Easton Lodge machinery repair costs (93-97)
Farm vehicles 41332637380053123929
Tractors & loaders 31693864485021195537
Cultivation equipment 68493227402671209
Seed drills 196164702207173
Sprayers & fert dist959158258219381571
Hay-making equip & baler 480–4803851945
Grain store equipment 185-162-279
Trailers & sundries 199306141700690
Cost/ha (242ha) £ 42.14 34.0863.87 46.17 63.88
Table 2: Vehicle and tractor repair costs (93-97)
Thank goodness for sugar beet. Yet again it has made a major contribution to profit at Easton Lodge. Our weekly invoice from British Sugar shows we have now notched up 1182t of adjusted beet which is 134% of our A and B quota.