Growing people is as important as growing grass on Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s North Canterbury Future Farm Lanercost.
Developing skills in the individuals working on the 1310ha North Canterbury hill country farm is part of the Future Farm’s management plan and for manager Digby Heard, this means growing his knowledge about the administrative side of farming including recording and utilising farm data, financial management and compliance.
A skilled stockman, Digby has proven his worth in the physical operation of Lanercost, the challenge now is to further develop the skills he needs to take on future senior management roles within the industry without the administrative support he has been receiving at Lanercost.
Lanercost’s farm advisor Jansen Travis has put together a 12-month personal development plan for Digby, identifying the skills Digby needs to take on more responsibility within his role and this includes using Xero software to code accounts, Figured software for budgeting and fully utilizing Farm IQ. Digby has been using this farm management programme to a limited degree already.
Jansen says today’s farm managers need to understand and manage the financial side of the business.
“If it’s left to third parties, it’s another cost to the business and by doing it themselves, it allows managers to keep a close eye on expenditure.”
Digby came to Lanercost with a Diploma in Agriculture, Farm Management under his belt as well as several years’ experience working on large sheep and beef hill country properties in North Canterbury.
He was recommended for the managerial position on Lanercost which was a bold move for Digby, as B+LNZ were starting from a zero base, needing to buy all the stock, repair or build farm infrastructure, renew pastures, grow forage crops, set up a grazing rotation and carry out an environmental management plan.
It was also Digby’s first managerial position and as well as being on an undeveloped farm, he was under the spotlight as the manager of B+LNZ’s first Future Farm.
Getting the farm up to speed has consumed his time and energy, but now Jansen and B+LNZ have put structures in place, including updating Digby’s job description, to allow Digby time to work on growing his knowledge and skills in financial and business management. His salary has also been adjusted in acknowledgement of this extra responsibility.
Digby, whose ultimate goal is to be in an equity partnership in a sheep and beef business, is welcoming this opportunity to gain a better understanding of the business side of the business and feels he is now a good position to take on the extra responsibility.