As farming gets more complex and farms get larger, the recording and reporting requirements expected from Canadian farmers grows, too.
Pen and paper record-keeping methods — although they’ve been successful for farmers in the past — are going to need the same updates and advancements that combines, tractors, and agriculture technology have enjoyed.
How can you take charge of your farm’s data? Darcy Herauf, director of FCC’s AgExpert, says that digitized farm records allow you to really look at your numbers and data differently than you would have been able to in the past.
As Herauf explains in the interview below, record-keeping isn’t about spending hours in the office either. With AgExpert, as long as you have your phone with you, you have access to your farm records. “Whether you’re at your accountant’s office, or talking with your agronomist, or at your crop input dealer, and have a question about numbers or what you’ve applied to your crop or when you seeded, you don’t need to take your notebook around with you — you can just look on your phone and that information is instantly available,” he says.
Adopting new technology can be intimidating, and it does require a commitment to not just buy the software, but to invest the time to learn how to use it, too. That said, Herauf says that FCC has worked hard to make it as easy as possible for farmers to enter their data into AgExpert.
But not all that time is lost, either. Filling out crop insurance records or applying for hail insurance is a time-consuming process. If you already have most of that required information in a digital format, AgExpert can save you time by producing a report that is a close facsimile to what most of the Prairie crop insurance agencies ask for, for example.
“Yes, it takes some time, but we hope that we give that time back or save farmers double that time when they go do some of those business processes, especially around reporting,” he says.
What AgExpert also allows is for farmers to easily determine several key management numbers, such as cost of production. “When I talk about our AgExpert Field application, it’s able to marry the financial decisions with the agronomy decisions,” he says.
There’s value knowing in-season where you’re at with each field and each crop type, so you can make knowledge-based and efficient management decisions. “Knowing if you’re at a certain number on your canola crop and trying to decide whether or not to spray fungicide, it really helps to know where you’re at on a gross margin cost of production to give you a better idea of ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ or is it worth doing a foliar application, or isn’t it. And that gets tough when you’re trying to marry a bunch of pen and paper record-keeping systems together, and what we’re trying to do is put it all together with the power of your phone,” Herauf says.
Adopting a software management program will take some time to set up, but there are some key ways to make the process easy and less stressful. Before the busy production season begins, Herauf encourages farmers to set up a short list of crop input products you plan on using, such as fertilizer blends, for example.
Herauf says it works like this: even if you don’t know the exact cost for fertilizer, it’s OK, just input a reasonable estimate as a starting point. Let’s say you’re putting on some 46-0-0 and you paid $450 a tonne for it. When you set up your seeding record in AgExpert Field and you put on your application rate of 200 pounds per acre, Field will automatically calculate the cost per acre of that fertilizer activity. Do that with each main input, such as seed and crop protection. As you set up each activity and pick your crop protection product, it’ll automatically calculate your cost of production throughout the growing season. From there, you’ll gain confidence in the platform.
For more information, visit AgExpert.ca or call AgExpert Customer Care at 1-800-667-7893.