Farm Management

Learn better farm management with this course developed by John Mason, prolific writer and the author of best-selling book "Farm Management". Study with our team of internationally renowned agricultural experts from Australia and the UK.

Course Code: BAG104
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
Get started!

Learn to Manage Farming for Sustainability and Productivity

Improve your capacity to more effectively manage a farm or agricultural enterprise which services farms. Farming is just as much about management as it is about animal or crop production. Unfortunately in today's world, the ability to produce a good animal or crop is no guarantee for success!

Through this course, learn to analyse, diagnose and make decisions related to the management of a farm business. The course relates to managing all resources, including; production, staff, physical resources, and natural resources. You learn strategic planning, whole farm planning, and how to prepare a business plan.

This course was developed by a team of experts from Australia and the UK, under the leadership of John Mason, author of three Farm Management books (published by imprints of Simon & Schuster and CSIRO)


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Strategic Planning
    • Planning procedures
    • 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
  2. Business Plans
    • Farm planning
    • Quality management systems
    • Whole farm planning
    • Preparing a business plan
    • Integrated production plans
  3. Business Assessment
    • Business goals
    • Factors involved in business assessment
    • Considering factors affecting your business
    • Drawing conclusions
  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
  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
  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
  7. Physical Resources
    • Managing equipment
    • Machinery and building
    • Managing physical resources
    • Engineering efficiency
    • Animal structures
  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

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Develop strategic planning methods for an agricultural business.
  • Learn how to 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
    • 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
    • landcare programs
    • erosion control
    • soil degradation
    • salinity
    • soil acidification
    • chemical residues
    • compaction

How Should the Farm Business be Structured?

Managing a farm today is more complex, in more ways than ever before.

  • Technology has changed things in obvious ways. Through mechanisation and computers, one person is now able to do the same work that many were needed for in the past.
  • Globalisation has expanded potential markets, but also created greater competition not only in country, but around the world
  • Changes to government systems (eg. taxation, inheritance laws, etc), have changed the way in which farms are structured for best productivity and long term sustainability.
  • The breeds of animals and cultivars of plants you farm can have a bigger impact upon productivity than ever before.

Many farms are set up as family enterprises, with emphasis on continuing the business throughout the generations. One of the most tax effective ways of setting up a family business is to create a trust. 

A trust consists of three parties; the creator of the trust, the trustees and the beneficiaries. The trustee's responsibility is to act on behalf of the beneficiaries, with the trustee owning legal interest in the property and the beneficiaries the equitable interest. A trust is different from a company in that it is not a separate entity from its owners, so the trustees are legally responsible for the trust. This includes liability for administering the trust, management of the trust, raising funds (apart from the initial funds, which are a gift from the creator) and paying tax on any income not passed on to the beneficiaries.

The beneficiaries of a trust are entitled to any interest as designated. The funds they receive can be used by the trustee to pay the expenses of the trust. They cannot interfere with the management of the trust, without taking legal action, and are personally liable for the income tax on any income they receive. There are no limits to the number of beneficiaries named.

It is advisable to consult both your Accountant and your Solicitor when considering setting up a trust. An Accountant would be most qualified to advise on what tax benefits the trust would be eligible for and how best to account for and distribute the money in the trust. A Solicitor is best suited to advise on the legal aspects of ownership, rights and responsibilities of those involved. As with most legal matters, the initial outlay can be quite costly, but the long range benefits can be worth the price. In Australia family trusts are not as great a tax saving as they have been in the past, due to changes in tax laws.

A trust is only one option; and it may not be the best option in many situations. Options for the way in which farms are legally constituted will no doubt keep changing as well.
Being a good farm manager is not just about agricultural practice. It also requires an understanding of legal structures, financial management, technology and much more.


A firm grasp of farm management is the one thing that any farmer or agricultural investor cannot be without.
It is always possible to employ someone with the knowledge and skill to grow and harvest crops, or animals; but a certain level of knowledge and understanding of the broader farm management is needed if you are to make the best choices for planning and investing resources into a farming enterprise.

Some will take this course so they can make better decisions about their own property, while others may study to add to their knowledge and skills attained through previous farming experience or study. You may take this course in conjunction with other studies, perhaps as part of a certificate. Alternatively, you may study this course by itself.

These studies can be very beneficial in any sort of agricultural career, including:

  • Operating your own farm
  • Working as a farm manager
  • Managing a farm supply, service or marketing business




ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA.
ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).
ACS is a Silver Sponsor of the AIH; and students studying designated courses are given free student membership. ACS and it's principal have had an association with AIH since the 1980's
ACS is a Silver Sponsor of the AIH; and students studying designated courses are given free student membership. ACS and it's principal have had an association with AIH since the 1980's
UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112
UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

Simply click on the ENROL OPTIONS button at the top of this screen and follow the prompts.

You can see the course price at the top of this page. Click 'enrolment options' to see any payment options available.

You can pay by Credit Card, PayPal, Afterpay or bank transfer.

Yes! We have payment plans for most courses. Click 'enrolment options' to see the available payment plans.
We also have Afterpay that will allow you to pay for your course or payment plans in four instalments (if you are in Australia).

What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

You don’t need to purchase any additional resources to complete our courses.

We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments.
If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $60 incl. GST for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

ACS has an arrangement with OAMPS (formerly AMP) who can arrange Professional Indemnity from Australian and New Zealand graduates across all disciplines. Ph: 1800 222 012 or email

Who are ACS Distance Education?

ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future.
We are focused on helping you learn and make the most of your experience.
You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.

How do I enrol my staff/ sponsored students?

Yes, you can do a request for a bulk enrolment and request an invoice on our Invoice Request Form

We can prepare an invoice, quote or proforma invoice. Simply complete your details on our Invoice Request form

We can arrange bulk discounts for your course enrolment, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

Yes, we have many students who are in locked facilities, such as prisons or hospitals. We can cater by also offering paper notes at an additional cost.

What if I have any more questions or need more information?

We can assist you to find the right course for your needs. Get in touch with us via email ( call on +61 7 5562 1088 or complete our course advice form.

What if I change my mind?

Please get in touch with if you would like to be removed from our mail list.

If you would like ACS Distance Education to delete your information at any time (whether you are a customer or a prospective customer), please contact our privacy officer and we will process this ( ).

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Dr. Gareth Pearce

Veterinary scientist and surgeon with expertise in agriculture and environmental science, with over 25 years of experience in teaching and research in agriculture, veterinary medicine, wildlife ecology and conservation in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Post-graduate qualifications in Education, Wildlife Conservation Medicine, Aquatic Veterinary Studies and Wildlife Biology & Conservation.
Gareth has a B.Sc.(Hons), B.V.Sc., M.A., M.Vet.S,. PhD, Grad. Cert. Ed.(HE), Post-Grad.Cert. Aq.Vet.Sc., Post-Grad. Cert. WLBio&Cons., Dipl. ECPHM, MRCVS.

Alison Pearce (Agri & Animal)

Alison brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to ACS students.

She has worked as a University Lecturer, has also run a veterinary operating theatre; responsible for animal anaesthesia, instrument preparation, and assistance with surgical techniques and procedures. She has worked in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

She has extensive experience of handling, husbandry, and management of a wide range of both small and large animals and has a particular love for nature and wildlife.

Alison has a BSc (Hon) Animal Science.

Need Help?

Take advantage of our personalised, expert course counselling service to ensure you're making the best course choices for your situation.

I agree for ACS Distance Education to contact me and store my information until I revoke my approval. For more info, view our privacy policy.