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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Online Learning in Farm Management - The Industry Needs Skilled People Now!

The course will teach you how to analyse, diagnose and make decisions related to management of a farm business. The course relates to the management of all resources including, viable production, staffing, physical resources, and natural resources.

  • Study a  range of  essential topics related to farm management.
  • Improve your management knowledge and skills.
  • Connect with our expert agriculture tutors.
  • Improve your business and career prospects.
  • Earn while you learn - study in your own time at your own pace.



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Be an effective farm manager - learn the strategies and planning skills to manage a farm.

This valuable course will teach you about the management of of all farm resources, including:

  • Production levels.
  • Staff.
  • Physical resources.
  • Natural resources.

Study the essentials for managing a farm:

  • Learn strategic planning.
  • Understand the elements involved with whole farm planning.
  • Learn how to prepare a business plan.

This course was developed by a team of experts with experience in countries, such as the UK, Australia and more, under the leadership of John Mason, a prolific writer and author of three Farm Management books (published by imprints of Simon & Schuster and CSIRO).


Course Duration: 100 hours.

Start Date: Start at any time. Study at a pace that suits you, and with full tutor support whilst you are studying.

Qualification: Statement of Attainment.

Lessons: The course comprises 8 lessons. 

Each lesson includes set tasks, and is completed with an assignment which you submit to your course tutor. The tutor will mark the assignment and return this to you with comments and sometimes offer suggestions for further reading or useful online resources.

Lesson 1. Strategic Planning

Planning procedures;the policy formulation approach, strategic management approach, initial strategy approach; Farm business structures; Management plans; Financial terminology and the money market; Finding finance; Rural finance sources; Financial terminology and record keeping; Contract law; Elements of a simple contract; Offers; Acceptance; Consideration; Strategic plans; Trusts.

Lesson 2. Business Plans

Farm Planning; Quality management systems; Whole farm planning; Preparing a business plan; Integrated production plans.

Lesson 3. Business Assessment

Business goals; factors involved in business assessment;Considering factors affecting your business; Drawing conclusions.

Lesson 4. Viability Analysis
Assessing profit; Risk analysis and managing risk; Standards; Cost efficiency; Cost of production; Quality and quantity standards; Financial records; The bookkeeping process; End of period accounting; Cash flow; Example of budget; sensitivity analysis.
Lesson 5. Management Strategies
Organising the workplace; Scheduling; Production systems; system variables; Animal production systems; Lot feeding; Cropping systems; Polyculture; Office systems; Computers;Business diversification; Value adding.
Lesson 6. Human Resources
Supervision; Organisational structures; Leadership; Workplace changes; Interviewing, recruitment and staff induction; Giving instructions; managing human resources; work scheduling; Occupational Health and safety; Duty of care; Protective equipment; Dealing with chemicals; Handling tools and equipment; Safety auditing.
Lesson 7. Physical Resources
Managing equipment, machinery and buildings; Managing physical resources;Engineering efficiency; Animal structures.
Lesson 8. Natural Resources

Regulations and legislation; Land Care programs; Rehabilitation; Trees; Erosion control; Soil degradation; Salinity; Soil acidification: Compaction; Chemical Residues; Water management; Water quality; Irrigation and watering systems.

Learning Aims 

  • Develop strategic planning methods for an agricultural business.
  • Prepare a Farm Business Plan.
  • Develop methods for assessing the operations of a Farm Business.
  • Analyse the viability of different production enterprises: assessing profits, risk analysis, cost efficiency, quality standards, financial records.
  • Develop strategies for managing different farm production enterprises, covering workplace organisation and crop scheduling.
  • Plan the management of human resources in a farm business covering: supervision, types of leadership/managers, orders & instruction, motivating employees, and recruitment.
  • Develop methods for managing the physical resources of a farm business including managing equipment, machinery and buildings.
  • Develop methods for managing the natural resources of a farm business, covering topics: regulations & legislation, land care programs, erosion control, soil degradation, salinity, soil acidification, chemical residues, and compaction.


  • Quality - our courses are developed and tutored by experienced professionals, with real world experience.
  • Relevant - our courses are relevant to today's world, with teaching that you can apply to real life situations.
  • Independent - ACS were established in 1979 and are an independent distance learning school, meaning we remain fully focused on the development and teaching of our students.
  • Flexible - our courses can be started at any time and studied at your own pace, and therefore fitted around your existing commitments.
  • Choice - other than offering a wide range of courses in a multitude of disciplines, we provide the options of either online studies or eLearning - you choose the option which best suits you, so you can determine where and when you study.


Farms, as do all business ventures have associated risks involved. A major part of successful farm management is to foresee potential risks, and develop contingency plans to deal with them, if they do occur. Risk analysis involves identifying possible sources of risk and incorporating any consequences into the planning and management of the enterprise.

Risks come in many shapes and forms in the business of farming including the following:

  • Market risks (i.e. commodity price fluctuations. Selling prices fluctuate, exchange rate varies (important for export sales), terms of trade decline i.e. payments not made until months after sale, demand & supply vary).

  • Financial risks (i.e. fluctuating interest rates. Funds to operate the farm become tight creating liquidity problems, interest rates change, property values change (changing equity), production costs increase i.e. materials supplies go up).

  • Production risks (i.e. any factor that hampers production, such as disease or theft. Produce quality or quantity is affected by something i.e. weather, pests, disease, land degradation, the way in which livestock is managed - over grazing, effects of fertiliser use, pesticide damage, weeds, labour supply problems, harvesting difficulties).

  • Personal risks (i.e. health factors. Something goes wrong in the personal life of the farmer or employees i.e. health, family or social relationships, business succession - new generation taking control of family farm).

  • Management risks (i.e. technological applications. Making decisions based on incorrect or poor information, using less technology than the competition i.e. using more costly techniques to do the same job).

In order to minimise the impact of risk, the farm manager should be looking towards developing a risk management strategy. This should detail the areas identified as posing risk to the business.
Things which are, historically, of a risk nature can be factored into the total management plan. For example, drought in Australia is a relatively common occurrence. Nobody knows precisely when to expect drought yet records can provide statistical evidence to suggest that it is an obvious risk factor.
By compensating for this risk during drought free times, the impact of drought can be alleviated when it does occur. 

This course is ideal if: 

  • You are too busy to attend a campus to study.
  • You are in a remote or regional area and study options mean to you need to travel.
  • You need flexibility to fit study around other seasonal activities associated with your busy work life.
  • You want to improve and update your knowledge of farm management.
  • You have been in the industry for a while but want increased confidence at management level.
  • You are interested in working in farm management.
  • You want to carry out some of internal business work yourself and reduce costs spent on outsourcing.
  • You are applying for a new job or role in the industry and want to demonstrate commitment to professional development.
  • You have a staff team or a particular person you want to up skill to take on more operational responsibilities

Any Questions?

Our Farm Management tutors are more than happy to answer any questions about the course.

Please click here to contact a tutor Or Request a course handbook here.

Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

Alison Pearce (animal)B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Masters Degree in Ecotourism. P.G.Cert. Ed. (Science). Alison's first job was in 1982 as a stockwoman, working with pigs in Yorkshire. Within a few years she of that she was working for the University of Western Australia as a Research Technician and instructor with their school of Agricultural Science.In 1989 she moved to Melbourne University as Unit Manager and Instructor in Animal Husbandry. By the mid 1990's she moved back to England to work in Animal Care and Veterinary Nursing at Cambridgeshire College of Agriculture. Throughout her career, Alison has developed and delivered courses in veterinary nursing and animal sciences for vocational colleges and universities in Australia, New Zealand and Australia. She has built a high level of expertise and an outstanding international reputation as an expert in animal sciences.
Dr. Gareth PearceGraduated from the University of Nottingham in 1982 with a B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Between 82 and 85 worked as Research Assistant and Demonstator in Animal Science at the University of Leeds. Over more than 30 years he has furthered his studies, obtaining eight significant university qualifications including degrees in Veterinary Science, Wildlife Conservation and Animal Behaviour. Gareth has significant teaching experience around the world as a faculty member at eight different universities including Associate Professor at Murdoch University and Director of Studies in Veterinary Science at Cambridge University. He has over 100 prestigious research papers published, and enjoys an outstanding international reputation in the fields of animal and veterinary science.
Diana Cole (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Permaculturist, Landscaper, Environmentalist. Holds a Diploma in Horticulture, degree in geography, permaculture certificate and various other qualifications. Between 1985 and 94, Diana was a task leader with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Since 2001 she has been chairperson of the Friends of Mellor Park (with Stockport MDC). From 2005 she has worked exclusively in horticulture as proprietor of her own garden design and consultancy business in and around Derbyshire; and at the same time as part time manager of a small garden centre. Diana has been an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable tutor with ACS since 2008.
Marius Erasmus Subsequent to completing a BSc (Agric) degree in animal science, Marius completed an honours degree in wildlife management, and a masters degree in production animal physiology. Following the Masters degree, he has worked for 9 years in the UK, and South Africa in wildlife management, dairy, beef and poultry farming.

Check out our eBooks

Business OperationsA text book for business students, or a guide book for anyone operating a business. Six chapters: Daily Challenges of Running a Business, Managing People, The Law, Fiance, Product Management and Risk Management.
Farm ManagementThe Farm Management ebook is a valuable piece of equipment for any farming student or current farmer. Improve your farm management skills or learn new skills and techniques. The topics covered within this Farm Management ebook include 1/ Scope and nature of the farm industry, 2/ The farm site, 3/ Production systems, 4/ Managing livestock, 5/ Managing pasture, 6/ Managing crops, 7/ Managing equipment and materials, 8/ Computer applications, 9/ Farm structures and buildings, 10/ Financial management, 11/ Marketing, 12/ Farm planning, 13/ Staff management, 14/ Water management and 15/ Diversification.
Fruit, Vegetables and HerbsThe Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs ebook is ideal for students, professionals and home gardening enthusiasts alike. Fruit, Vegetable and Herbs provides an overview in techniques to produce food in the garden. Topics covered within this course include 1/ Food from the garden, 2/ Deciding what to grow, 3/ Successful growing, 4/ Fruits, 4-1/ Deciduous fruit trees, 4-2/ Citrus fruits, 4-3/ Tropical fruits, 4-4/ Berries, 4-5/ Nuts, 4-6/ Vine crops, 4-7/ Using produce, 5/ Vegetables, 6/ Mushrooms, 7/ Special growing techniques
Profitable FarmingDiscover new ways to make money from your farm and broaden your perspective on the farming industry. A few things in life are certain; change is inevitable and people need to eat. Learn to embrace change as an opportunity and improve your ability to forge a sustainable career in farming.