GFM Network News


Importing the LEAN philosophy to your farm

Money Management: At first, it seemed ‘Lean’ might only work on small farms. Now it’s showing how to drive out waste and pump up profit on large farms too

Reading Time: < 1 minute Lean” is a management and organizational system originally developed by car manufacturer Toyota. There wasn’t a farm in sight. But now, after boosting balance sheets for so many other businesses worldwide, some think it’s about time mainstream agriculture got onboard. We will meet Indiana farmer Ben Hartman who has been applying Lean principles to his […] Read more

Lean on this farm

Five steps for lean management

Reading Time: 7 minutes For the past 10 years, Ben Hartman and his wife Rachel Hershberger have been running a Lean farm near Goshen, Indiana. That’s “Lean” meaning efficient and highly productive, not in the sense of barely surviving. Today Hartman, author of The Lean Farm, is recognized as one of the United States’ leading experts on applying lean […] Read more


I was skeptical at first that the concepts would apply because farms are very different from factories,” says Hartman. In the end, though, he says it taught him a crucial lesson: “You don’t have to get bigger to grow.”

Getting ‘lean’ for farming

Small farms like Ben Hartman’s can be among the first to boost their numbers by adopting lean, but there are lessons for all

Reading Time: 8 minutes If they have heard about “lean” management, most business managers think of it in the context of lean manufacturing, a system pioneered by Japanese car maker Toyota in the 1970s. Now, however, more farmers are successfully applying lean principles to their farms, and they’re ending up with healthier balance sheets as a result. One of […] Read more

A core lean principle is that inefficiency is waste, and on Danish farms a key learning is that a source of inefficiency starts with poor instructions for employees. Photographs help, and are placed strategically throughout lean farms in Denmark.

How lean farming is a little different in Europe

Reading Time: 3 minutes The European model of “lean” farming is a little different from the North American version, and although the primary focus is still eliminating waste, lean takes a more people-focused approach and shares similarities with the principles of holistic management. “The lean approach we take is more about management and people,” says Susanne Pejstrup, a Danish […] Read more


Robert Ciecko, vice-president of Hesston manufacturing, discusses the assembly procedure for these Massey Ferguson swathers while guiding journalists through the hay tool and combine assembly plant.

The four Ms get down to work

AGCO’s Robert Ciecko shares his strategy for winning with lean manufacturing in agriculture

Reading Time: 5 minutes While touring the assembly lines at AGCO’s huge combine and hay-tool plant at Hesston, Kansas, I admit I stopped counting how many workers were greeted by name by Robert Ciecko as he guided our group. But I didn’t stop being impressed by how, at virtually every station, waves came from the workers, or at least […] Read more