Keeping perfect maize farm records

John Mwaniki

John Mwaniki on his maize farm in Elburgon, Nakuru County in August 2021. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Last week, we discussed Farmer Moses’ fertiliser application programme and so far, he has already done top-dressing.

Today, we shall look at the records Farmer Moses is keeping to enable him to track all the activities on the farm.

Keeping accurate records is key to operating a thriving agribusiness. Financial and production records are among the crucial documents one should have. The financial records capture details of product sales, daily or running costs, equipment purchases, inventories and depreciation.

On the other hand, production records contain information on plant populations, crop yields and the quantities of inputs used, including water and fertiliser.

I guided Farmer Moses through the process of keeping records, which is basically the act of gathering information accurately and keeping it in an orderly manner.

The records can be filled up manually using templates or sample forms or automatically using a computerised system. One can create a template where these activities are documented. For instance, in a fertiliser programme, one captures the actual quantity used and the cost per unit area.

Modern technology

Currently, farmers are adopting modern technology for both productivity and agricultural recordkeeping. Applications for farm management systems, for instance Farmers Wallet, are used to maintain agricultural records on the farm. The free application is installed on a mobile phone or computer. A given crop cycle activity information is fed into the app.

The system automatically sends alerts to the farmer on the activities that need to be done at a given crop stage.

This makes it easier to keep track of all the activities going on and those to be done. Such apps are ideal for telephone farmers since they can monitor changes in all of the activities happening on the farm while they are away.

But users must first familiarise themselves with the system's functionality if they are to use it efficiently in crop production.

The records help the farmer to determine the farm's profitability, to keep track of what was done, and to compare the efficiency of the farm inputs used during the production. Using this information, the farmer can decide on the best or next enterprise to undertake.

Most lending institutions and insurance companies require one to have well-documented farm records, thus, keeping them is advantageous.

Accurate records

Farming is a business, and keeping accurate records helps the farmer choose the best approach. A farmer can determine from their agricultural records whether they are consistently making gains or losses. Therefore, based on the pricing in the previous production, farmers can forecast market prices and input costs. The amount of money spent or earned from the farm sales can also be reconciled.

Germination percentage records help in determining the seeds for the next season. On the other hand, chemical records help in ensuring control of pests and diseases and that the pre-harvest interval is well-observed to reduce the crop chemical residues.

One should spend at least 10 minutes each day updating the records to ensure they are correct and well-kept. This is a practice that Farmer Moses is embracing.

In our next article, we shall look at diseases likely to affect the maize crop.

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