Whether you’re hiring a full-time farm manager or somebody to occasionally work the fields, a good farm employment management plan can save both you and your pocketbook from a lot of potential headaches.

Finding a Fit on your Farm

With agriculture having the highest job vacancy rate of any industry in Canada, finding the right candidate/s can be difficult. Perhaps it is in part due to the ever widening urban and rural gap. A connection back to the farm isn’t as common today as it was 20 years ago, and that trend is only going to continue. In fact, the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council estimates that the agricultural labour shortage will double by 2025.

This is bringing a new influx of farm labour that is coming from other sectors – providing a different employee population to agriculture. For many in the industry of farming, finding, recruiting and when needed, retaining this new transient flow of employees is proving to be a difficult endeavour. That is why it is important to invest the time to review and engage best practices when it comes to farm labour employment on your farming operation – to keep it both safe and successful.

Time Invested in Training Will Bring Returns

An untrained (or poorly trained) labourer is not only less productive, they can be unsafe. Despite this fact, training is often overlooked when it comes to farm labour – defaulting to a “trial by fire” approach. As farmers, farming and all of the moving parts that come with it come naturally for us. However, for the new wave of on-farm labourers it is important to remember that it might not. And, even if you are lucky to have an employee with previous experience, it still might not be reflective of the experience, equipment or protocols required on your farm. Taking the time to properly train your temporary labour force will reduce the amount of time you (or your farm manager) have to spend later, supervising, hand holding or putting out fires. Be sure to review your training program to look for possible inefficiencies.

For example, are you training all labourers in a group no matter their role or skill set? This can mean that labourers who need less training (maybe returning workers, or those with previous experience), or those who only need to be trained for specific tasks are being paid for time they could be spending on more productive tasks. Is there a potential for your more experienced workers to better assist in bringing new or inexperienced workers up to speed?

On the flip side, are you training them individually when you could be training them in small groups with similar responsibilities? While training labourers one at a time can ensure they get the one-on-one help they need, it is also very time intensive.

Clearly Define Roles to Eliminate Confusion

A seasonal worker should have as much clarity around their role and responsibilities as a regular employee would. It’s especially important for inexperienced workers, who may have never worked on a farm or during seeding or harvest before. You should also spend some time outlining expectations related to your operational practices. What is the chain of command? How are changes communicated? Is there a code of conduct? Including, introducing and communicating these protocols to your new employees during training will help them best understand and meet expectations.

Matching Roles to Skill Sets for Faster Training

Which pieces of equipment will your labourers use to complete their assigned tasks, and how complicated are they to learn? Take a look at the ease of use of the machines you rely on every day, and what skills or previous experience might be needed to run them.

We designed the Morris Quantum with ease of use in mind. Its fast, individual depth control setting, one touch lift/lower of row units, and the ability to set row unit pressure on the fly ensures that even labourers who’ve never run an air drill before can learn quickly. When combined with the Quantum’s industry-leading durability features, like the new, stronger frame design, large flotation tires and extended shank holder that improves trip action, releasing faster off rocks, it’s clear having the right equipment in your lineup can be a valuable cost-management tool.

What are your best tips for managing seasonal labourers? Tweet us @Morris_Seeding