Some farms will always perform better than others, but why is there such a gulf between the performance of the top and bottom 25%? The former make an average annual profit of £124k; the latter’s losses average £9k. The 2-Minute Farmer (2MF) project wanted to find out, firstly, what lay behind this disparity and, secondly, how to help farmers, in efficient, two-minute bursts, to assess and improve their farms.
The project sought to increase farmer engagement with topics like succession planning, cashflow, workload, technical efficiency and farmer wellbeing (agriculture has a higher suicide rate than any other sector). This involved developing self-assessment tools that farming-related businesses could use to assess and then improve their technical and business knowledge.
Significant barriers to this included a lack of engagement, especially among those businesses not in the top 25%; hardly surprising, given that a farmer’s average working week is 65 hours. This, along with budget and time constraints, explained the project’s focus on the Tractor Wheel of Life, a self-assessment tool which enables farmers to benchmark their personal, technical and business performance and signposts them to useful resources.
2MF co-designed the tool with farmers, although feedback was restricted due to Covid ruling out face-to-face events. The tool breaks farming down into ten themes; each has a 2-Minute self-assessment whose results lead to goal-setting, sign-posting and the start of conversations around important issues.
Because agriculture is undergoing such rapid change, it’s more important than ever that farmers – especially those only just surviving – get the help they need to improve their business’s resilience and efficiency, as well as their own wellbeing. The project’s research showed a preference among farmers for a conversational style of learning, a finding reinforced by very positive feedback at local events, especially among farmers described as being in the middle 50% of farm performers and justifiably classifiable as ‘harder to reach’.
Taking all this into account, 2MF’s design – easily-understood, quick to complete, reflecting farmers’ actual experience – has helped farmers across the south west gain a better understanding of the challenges they face and the range of practical means available to help overcome them.
For more information please go to 2MF website.