Elliot Taylor, Partner and Farm Business Consultant with George F. White believes that looking closely at marginal gains within every farming business is vital to become more reliant to change. Farming marginal gains refers to the concept of making incremental improvements across the farming operations to achieve better outcomes. The term "marginal gains" became popular in the sporting world, particularly with the success of British Cycling team at the Olympics, where the team adopted the philosophy of making small improvements in multiple areas to gain a competitive advantage.
In the context of agriculture, farming marginal gains involves identifying and implementing small, practical changes and improvements in different areas of the farm. These improvements, while seemingly minor individually, can add up to significant benefits when combined.
Areas to focus on can include:
Soil Health: Making small adjustments in soil management practices, such as adopting cover cropping, reduced tillage, and using organic matter, can lead to improved soil structure and fertility over time.
Nutrient Management: Precisely applying fertilisers and using soil testing to adapt nutrient applications to specific crop needs can reduce waste and improve nutrient use efficiency.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Minimising the use of pesticides and maximising the use of non-chemical pest control can help reduce agrochemical costs. IPM techniques include planting new hedgerows to introduce beneficial insects and using resistant crop varieties that help reduce the need for chemical pesticides.
Equipment and Technology: Upgrading farm equipment and adopting precision agriculture technologies can lead to more precise operations, reduced fuel consumption, and optimised resource use.
Livestock Management: Implementing better grazing practices, providing quality feed, and focusing on animal welfare can enhance livestock health and productivity.
Energy Efficiency: Investing in energy-efficient equipment and renewable energy sources can lower operating costs and reduce the farm's carbon footprint.
Record Keeping and Analysis: Keeping detailed records of farm activities and analysing the data can help identify areas for improvement and inform decision making.
Elliot says “By applying the farming marginal gains approach, farmers can enhance the overall efficiency, productivity, and sustainability of their operations while minimising risk and the need for large-scale changes. It is a practical and adaptable approach that can be tailored to suit the specific needs and challenges of each farm”.
For advice on improving your rural business contact us on 0333 920 2220.