No longer are farmers using notebooks and spreadsheets to manage farms and keep records – they are fast making the switch to farm management software. The modern farm is coping with a great deal more than food production: climate change, pest and disease attack, decreasing soil fertility and depleting resources. At the consumer end too, even packaging and labeling that is not up to the mark can lead to wastage of the crop and increase the incidence of food-borne illnesses due to pathogens. Irrespective of whether one is managing a big farm business or a small family farm, every farmer wants to achieve a profitable production – and farm management software helps get this right.
Farm management software helps the farmer to be strategic in his day-to-day operational planning. It also brings about efficiency and organization to the work performed on the field. The farmer becomes acquainted with tools that put all of his fieldwork and paperwork under one single window of control, making it simpler than ever go get an overview of his farm. Specifically, farm management software enables the collection, processing, storage and dissemination of data in the form of information that helps to carry out the operations of the farm. This data can be related to land use, inputs, product price, and others. Even personal records and financial production data is helpful for farmers to analyze so as to make decisions that can increase operational efficiency. The farm management software also works in real-time to help prevent waste and damage. This software captures both scheduled and on-going activities along with the consumption of resources and costs employed, for every activity on the farm.
Farm management software provides the farmer with a holistic view of all farm activities and inputs through a single platform, which enables efficient planning, the capacity to track activities in real-time and thus take the right decisions. This software can suggest the timing of all farm activities, appropriate pest control measures and application of suitable fertilizer. This software comes inbuilt with team collaboration features so that it can be used by all team members.
As the software is able to take on a holistic view, the system can combine both business and operational data to improve efficiencies, which can increase the farmer’s return on investment by nearly 20 percent.
The software comes with features such as weather forecasting and pest-detection, which can help farmers have better control, by alerting farmers to any impending risk.
The software also provides compliance with Global Agricultural Practices and traceability mechanisms. Through these certifications, farmers are able to produce high-quality food that is safe for consumers.
The above factors combined contribute to reducing the impact of farming on the environment. By helping to decrease water and fertilizer/pesticide usage and thus reduce the chemical run-off to rivers and groundwater, it contributes to sustainable agricultural practices.
The choice of different types of farm management software in the market and making a decision can be overwhelming for the farmer. Therefore, the way to make a decision is to choose one that provides a complete solution and also integrates into the existing software, hardware, and third-party systems, providing full support for every aspect of their production.
To qualify as farm management software, the product must be able to
1.Track and provide insights into the day-to-day operations and aspects of a farm
2. Provide tools to improve production efficiency and profitability of a farm
3. Track and monitor field workers’ progress and communication
4. Offer crop management functionality
5. Coexist with other agriculture/agribusiness solutions.
A mobile version of the application is just as important because if the FMS works offline, the farmer can simplify data entry by doing it in the field, as soon as a particular task is done, which he should be able to do on a mobile app even if there is no internet connectivity. This way the farmer can save any data that is recorded, and sync it with the web application whenever he gets online. He should also have the option of setting up his account in his preferred language.
In the case of the United States alone, the software market for farming tools such as yield monitoring, field mapping, and weather forecasting is expected to grow 14 percent by 2022. According to researchers, if these technologies are adopted on a large scale, it can lead to farm productivity levels not seen since the advent of mechanization. Some of the world’s most well-known investors combined to pump 40 million USD into Farmers Business Network, a data analytics startup.
The agri-tech space is now getting an inflow of such venture capital, which has been increasing at a rate of 80% a year since 2012. Investors are beginning to see that big data can revolutionize the food chain, from farm to fork. Analytics that help in assessing forward and backward cropping patterns helps in determining the best crops to plant, taking both sustainability and profitability into consideration. Even for urban farmers who are turning rooftops and abandoned plots into farms, big data holds a lot of promise. In combination with the Internet of Things, big data can reduce scarcity and increase food supply, if backed with the right policies that support the modernization of farming.
What do users of FMS have to say?
“Having last season’s [satellite] imagery is the only way I could have identified the [uneven application] problem. Now I can avoid the same problem every year in the future. FarmLogs just saved me $16,000 per year!” says Clint D., a farmer from Tennessee, United States.
“With the Marketing tool, we always know what percent of our crop we’ve sold, what our price is on the average, where it’s got to get delivered, and basis. With FarmLogs everything’s right at our fingertips, and we know at a glance exactly where we’re sitting”, says Randy from South Dakota, United States.