How the Other Half Farms — Travel As a Management Tool

Rob Napier of NapierAgrifutures

No matter where you go in the world, farming happens. It can look very different, of course — from state-of-the-art rooftop greenhouses, to expansive, scrub pastures in Australia, to scratching out barely enough to eat from a tiny plot of land in Kenya. If agriculture looks so different, what’s there to learn from seeing how the other half farms?

Rob Napier, of Napier Agrifutures, based in Australia, says that one experience common to what he calls “elite farm managers” is ag-related travel, either internationally or even just within your own country.

Travel can provide a kernel of an idea, Napier says in the interview below, a very visual “Look, there’s more than one way to do things!” That can be the inspiration a farm manager needs to begin looking outside their businesses for opportunities, a trait Napier says that’s also common between forward-thinking farmers.

“(They) are scanning the world for ideas, and prepared to re-think their business,” Napier says, as entrepreneurial farmers are finding new ways to grow their business using joint ventures, syndicates and more. Leading farm managers are also disciplined enough to know they have to move from operators to managers and CEOs of their business, and learn those less-production oriented skills, like people management.

If you’re convinced, in theory, that your farm needs to step up its management game, how do you get there? Napier answers that question, too, and emphasizes that change happens in steps over time, not in a huge leap.

Related: Escape the Cold: The Value of Seeing How Your Crop is Used in Other (Warmer) Parts of the World

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