Calculate your costs per field and crop type for farm analysis and benchmarking

Calculate your costs per field and crop type for farm analysis and benchmarking

Farm performance analysis and benchmarking are key to improving your farm’s productivity and profitability. Over half of UK farmers say that they do some sort of farm benchmarking, and most say that this improved their business’s profitability.

In this blog we will look at how you can take the data you have recorded in fieldmargin and use it to work out your costings. You can use this information to identify areas where you could cut costs and improve productivity. For example by:

With fieldmargin’s costings tools it’s easy to keep track of your costs and income per field or crop for internal comparison or external benchmarking

This article covers how you can use fieldmargin for:

  • Checking the amount spent on each input and upcoming costs
  • Checking the amount of inputs used per field
  • Checking input costs per field or crop
  • Checking spend by input type
  • Record income per field
  • Gross Margin reporting
  • Exporting reports for use in external tools or for benchmarking

Start with the right data

The first step to analysing for performance is collecting the right data. With fieldmargin it’s easy to plan and record farm work using Field Jobs. The inputs (such as seed, manure, sprays or fertilizer) that you record on field jobs automatically update your reports. This can save you hours of admin finding work records or printing job sheets. You can also use these to plan and track harvesting yields. 

You can find more about how to use Field Jobs and Inputs in our guide here.

All your work is organised by Farm Year. Years don’t have a start/end date but work as a filing system based on the year you have selected when you add a Job. This keeps your Activity list tidy and means your costings will be organised by season.

Recording labour and machinery

If you want to go further with your variable cost tracking and record labour and machinery you can add these as inputs on your jobs. Read full instructions here.

For machinery: make an input for each piece of equipment that you use. Enter the rate as 1

For labour: add a labour input and then you can enter the number of hours spent on the job as the input total.

To enter your input unit costs click on the ‘Edit costs’ button above the report. Now you can enter your unit costs for each input. Note this will be the price per kg/l/lb etc so depending on the way your supplier lays out your invoices you may need to divide your price per pack or bag by its size. For example if a 10l can of Roundup is £200 you would divide it by 10 to get a price per litre of £2.

Input prices apply per year. If you order the same input multiple times in the year with very different prices calculate an average price.

Using costs and reports

Check the cost of upcoming work

To see just the cost of field work that you have coming up use the filter in the top right to change from ‘All jobs’ to ‘Incomplete jobs’. You can do this on all reports.

Check inputs used per field

You can quickly check inputs used per field by going to the Reports tab on field view. Handy if you want to quickly see if a planned application will be within the label limits for the season.

Get a breakdown of where an input has been used and your cost per crop

For a more detailed breakdown of which crops and fields your inputs have been applied to use the Input Report. This also shows the amount spent on an input per field and per crop. 

Breakdown spending by input type per crop 

The Input Cost allows you to see how much you are spending by input type such as seed, sprays and fertilizer. This helps identify fields where you are spending particularly high amounts on inputs to investigate. You can also see this in a tabular format per crop.

Fill in your output prices to get average input per ha for your crops

Once harvest is done and you have added yields on your harvesting jobs you will be able to add sale prices. This should be an average if you have sold at multiple prices. As well as seeing top and bottom yielding fields you can use these reports to get your total and income per hectare/acre for each crop that you harvested. 

Check Gross Margins per Field 

Once you have added your input costs and output prices fieldmargin automatically calculates your gross margin per field as well as cost per hectare and total cost.

This is a really powerful tool to help compare which fields you are making money on and which are less profitable.

Check Gross Margins per Crop

This gives you a higher level of your gross margins at a crop or crop variety level. This is most suited for using in farm benchmarking since it smooths out variation in performance.

Export your data

As well as all of the reports included with fieldmargin you can export your data as a csv or excel file so that you can do further analysis or easily copy it into another tool such as benchmarking.

You can export individual reports or all of the field jobs or notes from a farm year. This gives you full flexibility to perform your own analysis or import your data into other tools such as farm carbon calculators. 

Now that I have my farm costs and gross margins how can I use them?

Of course knowing your figures is just the start – they need to be something that you use within your farm decision making. Some of the ways you could use them are:

Use a benchmarking tool to compare your costs of production against other farms with a comparable system

Lots of countries publish data on farming costs for common crops such as this one. You may also find that a farming group you are a member of gathers this data. You could even get together some good farming mates at the pub and chat it through if you feel comfortable. Based on that data: how does your business compare? Are their areas where you are spending a lot more or less? 

Identify your top/bottom performing fields

This is helpful to give you some focus for where you may have problems to investigate For fields where you made a lower gross margin, why was this? If it was because of lower yield, what was the cause? Once you have built up a few years of data you can also look for trends over time. Are there fields that always lose money and might be better taking to a lower input system for example.

Keep an eye on how you are tracking with your costs over the year

Don’t just think of costs as an end-of-season thing. You can also refer to them as you make decisions. You can filter reports by complete/incomplete work to see the cost of your planned jobs. 

“Now we know at any given point in a season where we stand and how much we are eating into our margin. We can adjust our applications on the go and can see accurately the spend on each crop and field.”

– Monty Gorringe, UK mixed farmer

Full reporting including costings is available on our Plus and Pro plans. You can find out more about these on our pricing page here.

Not using fieldmargin yet but curious to try? Get started below. It’s free to create a farm and you can trial Pro for 14 days for free. 

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