Top Performing Farmers Are Information Rich: Case Studies Of Sheep And Cattle Farmers In The South Island Of New Zealand
The purpose of this study was to investigate the management behaviours of six top performing sheep and beef farmers from the South Island of New Zealand. Information was obtained through interviews using grounded theory qualitative research methodology.
All six farmers were found to be information rich. They source information widely and with a discriminating behaviour. They read widely, typically about one hour per day. They participate in discussion groups but only when relevant information can be obtained. They regularly visit other farms and tend to associate with other high-performing people. They have well developed networks. They have challenging, relevant and achievable goals and targets. All six farmers
plan well ahead but with a strong focus on flexibility. They are early adopters rather than first movers in relation to new technologies. Having decided that an innovation has merit they usually test it in a small way before making any major commitment that cannot be reversed. All were benchmarking their operations against other top operators, both formally and informally. They were particularly interested in the reasons why other farmers were achieving success, and hence liked to have direct contact with these people. All of them were interested in the financial benchmark comparisons obtained from their accountant. These top performing farmers have well developed management frameworks such that the process of planning, implementation, monitoring and reflection occurs on a daily basis. Farming is a passion as well as a career.
Keywords: benchmarking; farm management; sheep and beef cattle farmers; grounded theory; New Zealand; decision-making process; information sourcing.