Integrated Farm Project 3094
Word or time length guide
(See marking criteria section below) 25 pages of A4 excluding summary and references
Contribution to module assessment (%)100%
Date set 9th October 2014
Submission deadline [date + time] see * note belowTuesday 9th December 2014 5.00pm
Submit to:School of Agriculture, Food and Environment, and online to the Gateway module page.
Return date:Friday 13th February 2015
Marking guidance (breakdown of marks to subsections)Maximum Mark
* Normal penalties for late submission will apply: that is any report submitted after the deadline and up to 7 days late (without approval from the module leader, as per normal RAU procedure) will be marked out of a maximum of 40%; any submission made later than seven days beyond the deadline will receive a zero mark.
Failure to attend the farm walk will mean that a mark of zero will be awarded unless mitigating circumstances are approved through the internal university system. This is not negotiable.
Note: the submissions must be individual pieces of work, but working in study groups to discuss how you approach the coursework is recommended. If any submissions are found to have duplication and deemed to be collusion then a zero mark will be awarded.
Learning outcomes being tested by this coursework
Students will be able to:
1.Undertake a resource appraisal and a full farm business planning exercise in an unfamiliar situation.
2.Set a farm business plan into the context of compliance with legal requirements and regulations
You are asked individually to prepare an outline 3-year business strategy for the study farm that includes the farming plan and the associated financial justification of the plan. This will commence from 1st January 2015.
This piece of coursework is designed to bring together and integrate all the knowledge and skills you have developed in the first two years of your course programme. You will be provided with farm information separate to this assessment brief. You will also be expected to undertake a desktop study to provide data such as average rainfall, soil type, market prices, etc. You will also have opportunity to speak with the farmer on the day of the visit to gather information as well as having lecture sessions with him. Prepare for this interaction and the farm visit to make the best use of your time. To walk the farm properly will take two to three hours so wear suitable attire for a strenuous farm walk and bring lunch. Additional copies of maps and farm data that has already been provided will not be provided again on the day.
The farm is tenanted from the National Trust (on a 20 year FBT) and forms part of the Sherborne Park Estate. The holding is 74ha in size consisting of permanent pasture (approx. 50ha), temporary pasture (12ha) and arable (10ha), all managed organically. The majority of the farm is under an Organic Entry Level Scheme (OELS) and Higher Level Scheme (HLS). Most of the permanent pasture is managed as species rich grassland, the temporary pasture is managed as herb rich ley, and the arable consists of wild bird cover (7ha), fallow (2ha) and arable margins (1ha). A detailed field schedule will be given.
To meet the HLS requirements stocking is very extensive, with around 100 ewes and 12 suckler cows grazing all year round. A few weaned pigs are fattened on the farm each year. All meat is sold direct at a premium. No crops are currently grown. A small livery enterprise (6 horses) is also present.
For the purpose of this exercise students are asked to assume that the OELS /HLS agreement ends on 31st December 2014 and that a new agreement will not be offered.
Jonathan and Mel need a new cropping, stocking and diversification strategy to ensure business survival and growth. Their (and the landlords) environmental objectives must also be taken into account.
You will be asked to prepare a 3 year strategy for the farm. Your plan must include a succinct and focussed resource appraisal and a business plan for three years beginning on 1st January 2015. It should also cover the use of surplus agricultural assets and any diversification proposals, as well as your agricultural plans.
You will need to provide detailed cropping and stocking plans to cover the three year period (suggested crop rotations, if applicable, can be for a longer period), taking into account the soils, weed burdens, and climate of the farm and prepare gross margins, profit/loss accounts and cash flows to cover these three years. You must also comment on the effect of change on the farms balance sheet. Capital investment plans for the alteration or erection of buildings, and the use of machinery and labour will also be required if they form part of the proposed three year plan. All figures must be backed up by clearly stated assumptions.
You will be given a detailed farm map, a cropping plan for the present year, a buildings plan (if available) and any other relevant information. You will be expected to work out the size of the farm buildings on the day as part of your resource appraisal.
The plan must maintain the farm in its current state in terms of environmental assets i.e. you cannot asset strip the farm in order to derive income. The plan must be sustainable. Therefore the impact of your business plan on long term soil structure and management of all natural and physical capital must be considered fully. Therefore you will be penalised in the marking if you derive a profit at the expense of maintaining equipment, buildings, fencing etc. You will also be penalised if you make simple errors such as not understanding the difference between variable and fixed costs, the role of depreciation in financial analysis, the needs of the business in terms of cash flow and working capital etc. You will also be penalised if you do not demonstrate understanding of simple factors such as seed rates, growth rates, stocking rates etc. The coursework is designed so that you have opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of these issues in a practical context. The financial statements must be referenced appropriately if you have used figures from industry publications (such as Farmers Weekly, Nix, ABC) and your assumptions must be noted.
If a business idea will take longer than three years to realise its financial potential then you must explain this in your report e.g. investment in genetics that is not reflected as an asset in your final balance sheet.
The plan must be written in a report style for your clients. They plan to continue to operate the farm. You are advising them. Note this is not an essay. Marks will be given for the professional style of writing and the clarity of explanation of the points raised in the report. You will be penalised if you write in the first person. The sections that must be included are:
Executive summary (no more than 500 words)
Introduction (including aims and objectives of the business owners, analysis of internal and external factors that affect the business, comparative analysis of business performance in order to determine its productive capacity)
Farming plan (including, as applicable to your business cropping plan, stocking plan, machinery plan, labour profile, non-farming income from farm assets or other opportunities)
Financial plan (gross margins by farming cycle, cash flow statements, profit and loss by financial year, effect of plan on balance sheet)
Conclusion (no more than 300 words)
Further points for you to consider:
The sustainability of the farming system and its alignment with appropriate compliance regulations, NVZ legislation etc.
How realistic the produc
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