By Vina Medenilla
Having good soil, a strategic plan, and the right people are some of the crucial factors that must be in sync for farm operations to run smoothly, especially during times of difficulty.
Bryan John Dizon, 38, the owner of Javenri Harvest Farm, is one person who can attest to this.
Dizon shifted from the corporate world to agriculture in 2015. After learning animal husbandry in school, he ventured into commercial livestock and crop production. Now, his source of income does not only come from selling farm outputs, but also from offering training programs to student farmers.
Although he has invested time and resources to make farming his career, there will always be obstacles that he cannot avoid in order to progress. He discusses how he deals with some of these challenges in this article.
Finding people who share the same passion for agriculture
In recent years, Dizon has previously observed inconsistent performances from employees who did not stay long in their positions due to a lack of interest and love for farming.
For this reason, Dizon makes sure that everyone on the team is on the same page, with a shared vision for the farm that is centered primarily on sustainability.
“With our recent staff, we all went through a series of visioning meetings where we all talked about our passion, goals, and aspirations.”
Although the risk of staff attrition is inevitable, Dizon is content and happy with his dependable core group, which includes a trusty farm worker who has been working with him since 2015. The group also involves a former farm student who decided to stay with Javenri Harvest Farm and is currently in charge of the nursery.
The farmhands, both permanent and on-call, receive training on the farm, plus free inputs like seeds and vermicompost so they can also grow their own gardens.
Mitigating negative outcomes
Javenri Harvest Farm sometimes experiences animal morbidity and mortality, as well as pests and plant diseases.
As cliché as it may sound, the farm believes that prevention is better than cure.
They make sure to follow vaccination programs for the flock, feed them with healthy and fresh feed, and provide them with proper housing that protects them from natural calamities and predators.
Pests and diseases also pose a risk to the crops since they do not spray any chemical insecticides.
“We work with nature instead of against it. We integrate flowers in the vegetable garden that deter some insects from targeting our main crop. We also practice crop rotation, intercropping, and establishing sacrificial plants,” said Dizon.
Enriching the soil
Soil degradation, or the poor management of soil, is a common cause of crop or agricultural failures.
Dizon said that it is important for farmers to rebuild the soil and the first step is testing the soil using DIY soil tests or better yet, having them examined in a laboratory for thorough analysis.
“This will then become your decision guide on what to do with your land. If you are growing animals, you still need to understand your soil. The soil also plays a role in the health and safety of the farm animals.”
At Javenri Harvest Farm, caring for the soil is of utmost priority. They keep their drip irrigation system in good condition to make sure the soil is hydrated.
On top of this, they collect compostable waste from different sources like restaurants, hotels, and coffee shops.
“Vegetable refuse and coffee grounds are added to our compost heap and these are eventually fed to our vermiculture worms, then turned into fertilizer and rich soil. We also blend our natural fertilizer concoctions that are sprayed regularly into the soil.”
Setting goals and tracking the progress
It pays to write down all your plans and have a record of every strategy you make in farming. You’ll know what works best in certain situations and you won’t make the same mistake twice.
Write down all the activities, objectives, meeting minutes, and problems so you won’t get lost in the process.
Having a record of the farm’s vision and mission will also be beneficial for the whole team. “This way, you have a common language when it comes to your farm operations,” said Dizon.
Above all else, always have a backup plan for everything, including emergency funds.
There will be heartbreaks, and in case things go south, you’ll know how to rise and set things straight when you have a plan B.
For more information, visit Javenri Harvest Farm