Improve Your Vegetable Farm’s Profitability by Combining Financial and Production Planning

Dec 04, 2023

By Jonathan LaPorte

Looking to improve profitability and productivity on your vegetable farm? MSU Extension offers a variety of decision tools that help. Many of these tools consider key decisions as you plan for and evaluate your growing season. The newest of these tools provide planning support for large and small vegetable farms.

The Crop Budget Estimator for Vegetables is designed for evaluating many types of management decisions. Two versions of the estimator are available:

The detailed version offers a more in-depth level of analysis. Using your own records and current market data, you can evaluate and more accurately consider a number of management decisions. Decisions that reflect the situation of your individual farm business. With this information, you can build a budget to:

  • Create break-evens for use in marketing or production decisions.
  • Evaluate capital purchases (i.e., a new tractor or harvester).
  • Assess the efficiency of your operation with financial ratios.

If you are familiar with the Fertilizer and Pesticide Cost Comparison Decision Tools, these resources are also built-in. Allowing you to:

  • Compare chemistry and fertilizer programs recommended by crop nutritionists and advisors.
  • Calculate the amount of fertilizer you’ll need to reach your yield goals.
    • This feature uses soil test data, manure applications, and nutrient product information.

Note: The level of complexity provided may make it more suitable for large farms. Especially those operations that have more variability due to size and scale. If your farm is of smaller scale, a less complex decision tool may better fit your management needs.

The simple version was built with smaller farm needs in mind. Instead of using a built-in, step-by-step process, you can directly enter your own cost estimates. Other cost comparison tools can still be used to help you determine those values, if desired. Or you can use last year’s information if you expect costs to be similar. The simple version then provides an assessment of revenue goals, cost of production, break-evens, and financial ratios.

Mini calculators are also available in the simple version. For example, some small farms may use raised beds, especially if farming only a few acres or on less than an acre. The simple version offers a built-in calculator to estimate your actual production area when using raised beds. A simplified fertilizer calculator is also available to estimate cost per acre on select products.

As Michigan farms face challenging weather, uncertain markets, and tightening margins, making well-informed decisions has never been more important. Using decision tools can help you improve profitability, be productive, and minimize potential risks to your farm business.

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