Value Stream Mapping


Do you know how you farm? That’s a question farmers should ask themselves when looking to improve how they manage their operations.

One of the ways farmers can answer the question is to create a Value Stream Map (VSM). Quite simply, VSM is a way to describe and analyze specific aspects of farm production and identify processes or actions that create value. Take cash cropping, for example: a VSM could focus on how grain moves through harvest from the combine to grain buggies and trucks. When it comes to livestock production, farmers may want to analyze different aspects of how an animal is managed from birth to maturity or to market.

Value stream mapping is a core part of the AgLean Master Class program. It takes Lean manufacturing principles and applies them to agriculture to help farmers and on-farm processors eliminate the root causes of loss and waste that often get overlooked in day-to-day operations.

In the program’s first year, farmer participants used VSM to analyze on-farm processes ranging from how information is managed on a beef feedlot operation to how maintenance is conducted on a hog operation.

AgLean Master Class facilitator Garth Baxter says farmers need to think of the program as “another advance in management that gives you practices and tools to make you more efficient, more profitable and take your business management to the next level.”

Baxter explains that farmers who enroll in the program create a Value Stream Map for a specific process on their farm. Pork Producers Mike and Amy Cronin, for example, were concerned about the amount of travel time required for employees to walk through their large facility. They created a VSM of their maintenance and repair process, which identified the amount of time it took to walk through the barn to retrieve tools required for repairs. They learned that by making maintenance tools and parts more available and accessible throughout the barn, employees could make much more efficient use of their time.

The Cronins are now using insights gleaned from the AgLean program and VSM to assess a number of their farm processess. Any farmer wanting to learn more about how they farm can sign up for the AgLean Master Class program, which gets underway in October.

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