Keeping farm records leads to better farm management. It’s important to keep an accurate and up-to-date record of activities that happen on the farm. They can assist in the procurement of loans, help with decision-making, and even detect fraudulent or inefficient activities. Detailed record keeping is also required when transitioning to an organic operation. You can find Excel spreadsheets for farm financial record keeping on the ACES website at the link below:
Aside from farm accounts, there are several other things to keep records of.
Agricultural Inputs and Crop Rotation: Fill out the first column with the season or year and what is planted. In the second column you will write in the location or name of the field in which its planted. This will help you keep track of crop rotation and give you something to look back at over the years. If you get a soil test done, you’ll write in the results next to that and then fill in the fertilizer or other amendments added to the field or area you listed. Also, keeping track of everything sprayed on the property can help you determine accurate costs. It’s important to keep track of what is added to the land and it’s impacts on the crop and farm.
Agricultural Inputs and Crop Rotation Records
|Season & Crop Planted||Field Number, Name or Location||Soil Test Results||Lime Applied||Fertilizer Applied||Chemicals Applied||Other Inputs or Amendments (Manure, Compost, etc. )|
Production: In the first column, you will write in which crop is planted. It’s beneficial to be as specific as you can, as to keep track of performance among varieties. In the second column, you’ll fill in the location or field name where the crop is planted and in the next column, enter the type of planting (whether you’re direct seeding or using transplants and include the amount used, like the number of flats or the amount of seeds used). After that, you’ll enter the date planted and there is a place for notes on the far right of the table. Notes about pests, weather, and anything that can impact the yield or that required extra attention should be mentioned. The harvest date and yield can be used just once, if it’s a crop that only requires one harvest, but also this sheet could be used for something like squash that require multiple days of harvest. You could fill out the top line of the sheet and just write in the harvest date and yield every time you harvest.
|Crop Planted||Location/ Area Planted||Type and Amount (seed/transplant, lb/#)||Date Planted||Harvest Date(s)||Yield||Notes (pest, weeds, weather, etc.)|
Farm Inventory: Equipment records can help you truly understand the costs associated with operating your farm. There is typically a percentage added in financial records to account for maintenance costs, but keeping up with each piece of equipment can help you realize the costs incurred during the year. You could see that you’re spending more on repairs than previously thought, or you could see the need for larger or more specialized equipment. You’ll write the name of the equipment in the first column, the year you purchased it and assess its condition. Keeping track of your equipment repairs and condition can help you make better farm management decisions and keep accurate financial records.
Farm Inventory Records
|Equipment/Assets||Year Purchased||Condition at Beginning of Year||Notable Repairs|
Farm Labor: Knowing all your inputs can help you make profitable decisions for your farm. It’s important to know your labor input, whether its your labor or someone you’re paying, when looking at different options on the farm. A labor log can capture the tasks completed and the amount of time it requires. This log could also be used to configure the hours needed to pay an employee. Labor is typically the largest cost in production, and you need to know how much time is going into your products in order to adequately cover the costs.
Farm Labor Records
|Date||Name||Hours Spent||Location||Type of Work (harvest, processing/packing, travel/delivery, sales, etc.)|
Jessie Boswell, Regional Extension Agent, Commercial Horticulture
New August 2021, Farming Basics Production Journal, ANR-2806