Good records = good decisions

Digital forms of farm record keeping are increasingly replacing the traditional notebook and pen in the top pocket

Two factors are converging to drive a new age in record keeping on-farm. 

First, many basic advances in crop productivity have been adopted. To keep farm businesses moving forward, incremental productivity increases brought about by careful and detailed analysis of farming systems will be necessary. To achieve this, good record keeping and data analysis will be essential.

Second, the arrival of the digital age means record keeping is now easier than ever before. Computers are now in our pockets and not only in the farm office where, after a 12-hour day in the field, often only the most dedicated regularly find the time and energy to sit down and enter each day’s records. 

Record keeping software has also become more intuitive and devices are increasingly being integrated and connected with operations performed on a daily basis. Increased connectivity is allowing the sharing and accumulation of data without the need to use cards, sticks or discs. Records are also becoming more visual, with the GPS capabilities of many devices allowing data to be viewed easily on farm maps.

An increasingly broad range of record-keeping applications is now available, from simple spray-recording apps through to integrated whole-of-farm management systems that link growers with their consultants and agronomists. Choosing a record-keeping system will depend on many factors, including whether you need to link with your agronomist or require the system to integrate with your precision agriculture data and whether you want one system to do everything or are happy to run a few smaller apps to achieve a similar outcome. From the simplest to most complex, all record-keeping systems have their place depending on the needs of the user.

Farm record-keeping systems with mobile data entry – main features
 Record-keeping system Operating system  Cost Internet required?  Features Comments (from Richard Heath) 

 ProductionWise

www.
productionwise
.com.au

 Web app  Free for basic functionality Subsciptions start at $385/year for increasing functionality  Yes Free aspects
  • Advanced farm mapping
  • Paddock and grain storage diaries
  • Pre-populated lists for efficient data entry
  • Growers and advisers can share records and recommendations
  • Grain supply and sales management
  • Secure information storage
  • Export and print-friendly data forms
Subscription aspects
  • Climatic and biomass monitoring
  • Rainfall
  • Yield and production forecasting
  • Production profiling and benchmarking indicatros
  • Gross-margin analysis
Because ProductionWise is a web app it will work on any device with an internet connection. For basic record keeping, this app is hard to beat given that it is free. The addition of yield and climate forecasting functionality in the subscription package differentiates ProductionWise from other record-keeping apps. It is due to be integrated with APSIM in 2013.

 Agworld

www.
agworld
.com.au

Web and iOS

 Free-to-view agronomist recommendations and library material

Subscriptions start at $699/year for ability to input and manage records

 No
Free aspects
  • Map new properties
  • Edit existing property maps
  • View farm records
  • View agronomist recommendations
  • Convert recommendations to actuals
  • Create basic crop rotations
Subscription aspects
  • Sync to iPhone and one iPad
  • Create new farm records
  • Create comprehensive crop plans
  • Print gross-margin analysis
  • Access chemical labels and compliance information (MSDS Library)
Agworld has sophisticated online/offline functionality so that an internet connection is not needed to make and view records. Multi-level access allows sharing of data records witih agronomists and consultants. It has strong rotation and crop-planning functions and a large library of chemical label and research information. Agworld offers and entirely new system designed around what is possible with tablet technology and the data-storage cloud. 

 Back Paddock

www.
backpaddock
.com.au

 Windows and iPad Contact Back Paddock for pricing information  No
  • Create management reports for spray mixes across multiple paddocks
  • Generate PDF documents of recommendations and email while in the field (internet permitting) or send via SMS
  • Browse all previous recommendations
  • use mapping features with multiple layer capability, satellite imagery and detection of current location
  • Enter various observations into the paddock diary including weather data and crop health; photos and voice records can be attached to each observation
Back Paddock desktop software comes from a strong background of agronomist support and integration with soil testing and fertiliser recommendation software. Back Paddock also offers products for record keeping and planning and is catching up with tablet-based solutions for data entry and record viewing.  

 PAM

www.
fairport
.com.au

 Windows, iOS and AndroidTM  Contact PAM for pricing information  No
  • All crop and livestock records
  • Consultants can record in-the-field recommendations, which then appear in the PAM program after syncing, and can also SMS or email recommendations to clients and contractors
  • Weather records
  • Pest and disease scouting and weed scouting records, which can be linked to a GPS position
  • General-purpose dairy facility with reminders
  • Inventory of purchase and physical stocktake of consumables
  • Recording events, who did them, where, what they did and how long it took
PAM is long-established Australian software for whole-farm records and analysis. pocket PAM has now been upgraded to operation on all modern mobile devices and tablets. Additional software enables full integration of PAM with precision agriculture data. 

 Farm Works and Connected Farm app

www.
farmworks
.com.au

 iOS and AndroidTM  The app is free but has limited functionality for decision making. Farm Works desktop software required for full functionality  Yes
Connected Farm app features
  • Calculate areas and map field boundaries
  • Enter scouting attributes for pests, weeds or diseases and log the severity of problems and crop conditions
  • Switch between logging paths, points and polygon areas
  • Capture and geo-reference digital images of pests using the phone's built in camera and GPS
  • Calculate nitrogen rates by using normalised difference vegetation index crop readings from the GreenSeeker® hand-held crop sensor
Farm works desktop software has long been one of the leading precision agriculture software packages, offering the ability to import and layer data from difference sources. The Connected Farm apps are starting to add some mobile functionality to the Farm Works software but are not yet able to fully integrate with the Farm Works desktop package.

 EvoCrop

www.
evocrop
.com

 iPad

 Free lite version allows records for one farm and three paddocks

Full version costs $699.99

 No
  • One-off complete system purchase – no ongoing subscription fees
  • Complete cropping records management from sowing through to harvest and marketing
  • Server syncing for secure records storage
  • Data can be shared between grower and adviser
  • Online and offline use – no need for constant internet connection
  • Gross margin calculation capability
EvoCrop has been developed as an iPad-only app, but with all the functionality needed for complete record keeping on-farm. It is simple to set up and use. Allows gross margin calculation to help with decision-making. 

 Spray

www.
eziapp
.com.au

 iOS

Free lite version

Full version costs $239.99

 No
  •  Replaces the manual spray log book
  • Records and stores spray records in one place
  • Produces and exports PDF spray reports while in the field
  • Stores all historical chemical applications
  • Provides live feed of spray information from the operator as it happens
Spray is an iOS app that has an enormous amount of functionality for spray record keeping. Everything that you could possibly need to record for compliance with record-keeping requirements is included in this app. 

 F-Track

www.
farmapps
.com.au

 iPhone (iPad, AndroidTM, Blackberry and Windows coming soon) Subscription is $249.99/year  No
  • Recording of all farming events, such as spraying, sowing, tillage, spreading, harvesting
  • Task management feature allows tasks to be allocated between users and for weekly, monthly, year plans to be tracked to their completion
  • Paddock mapping and tracking function enables users to know which paddock they are close to and paddock histories
  • Silo Manager records on/off-farm grain information, quality, type and location
  • Fuel Inventory feature allows tracking of on-farm fuel usage and storage with the ability to allocation to vehicles and generate warnings when fuel is low
  • Integrated with U-see remote monitoring systems to view tank monitors, cameras and weather stations
  • Lists current market prices for livestock and grain commodities
  • Fully integrated chemical inventory system to record and track chemical use
 F-Track promotes itself as a notebook replacement for recording all paddock and livestock events. Data is saved to the cloud so it is secure and can be accessed on different devices. It includes limited analysis of data.

 Farm Manager

www.
stringybarksoftware .com

 iPhone  $1699  No
  • Record full history of crops from sowing to harvest
  • Record chemical and fertiliser use, including type, rate and date applied
  • Keep track of livestock, with full details of stock including eartag numbers, bloodlines, breed and year born
  • Record shearing and crutching dates, plus all drenching, dripping and jetting details
  • Keep track of machinery maintenance, including engine oil and filter changes, transmission oil and filter changes, and hydro oil changes
  • Take photos of crops, livestock, paddocks and machinery and link them to records data
 Farm Manager is a farm notebook replacement app that allows for recording of cropping and livestock information. Data remains in iPhone but can be emailed as reports.

More information:

Richard Heath, Innovate Ag Research 02 6766 1769, richard@innovateagresearch.com.au

GRDC Project Code IAR00001