What to Consider When Selecting a Farm Management System
Have you struggled with selecting a farm management system? That’s understandable, and you’re not alone. Lots of farmers like you need a tech platform that supports their business, but with so many different types of software options out there it’s hard to figure out what you need.
Farming is much more than an activity for producing food for consumption – it’s a business venture. Thanks to advances in technology, farm management systems (FMS) enable growers the necessary production advances required to feed the world while finding efficiencies in productivity, traceability, and sustainability.
When it comes to investing in farm management software, not all products are made equal and there is a tidal wave of technologies out there threatening to engulf growers.
When you start looking at your options and see how many different platforms there are and how many different functions they can perform, it’s easy to just throw up your hands, and forget about it.
This article is designed to help you figure out what you need from a farm management system. Here’s what to consider when making your selection…
Is it a complete agriculture solution?
Don’t assume all FMS’s are equal. Agtech systems come in a variety of forms, with some offering crop marketing, some offering traceability reporting, and others offering help with agronomy. But what you really need is one platform that organizes all of that information together.
Because the data from each of those parts of your business affect each of the others. And that means when you use a complete solution, everything you need is right in front of you on one interface and helps you to make your farming business decisions more efficient.
Connectivity is the future of agriculture, and the first place to start is getting your own systems all connected to each other. The best farm management system is going to be a platform where all of your business components can be seen, analyzed, and adjusted in one place.
Do your homework and experiment. Talk to your consultants, friends, neighbours, and peers in the industry to understand the key strengths and weaknesses. And above all, reach out and request demos.
How do you know if it’s a complete farm management system?
Let’s look at some of the things a truly complete FMS should provide:
Farm Management– to improve overall performance. This would include things like connectivity with the whole team for more efficient people management, the ability to see crop plans, a way to keep track of inventory and manage equipment records; even offline.
Precision Agronomy– to increase yield, from soil testing to customized prescription field maps for seeding, chemical and fertilizer.
Crop Marketing– to grow farmer revenue. The platform should at least provide a custom crop marketing plan, margin and market tracking, and profit tracking and analysis based on the projected yield. Ideally, it would also provide things like market reports, hedge plan tracking, and training in these areas.
Independence– farmers want independent advice that is in their best interest and not connected to the sale of other products.
Integration– to automate data collect. The platform should have numerous connections with sensors, hardware and other software. The more API’s that the FMS has, the less data the farmer will have to enter and the more powerful the FMS will be for the farm.
Service Providers– to allow the integration of trusted third-party service providers and their software. The platform should work with current, trusted service providers while enabling those service providers to be more efficient in the delivery of the services on the farm.
Data Ownership– uncertainty around data ownership makes farmers wary about which company to work with. A high-quality, efficient FMS will communicate who owns the data and what ownership really means. Some platforms even revenue share with farms that opt to participate.
Understanding of Agriculture– to know the ins and outs. This would include working with a company that has deep domain expertise in agriculture, really understands the challenges on the farm and are passionate about making agriculture better.
Empower the Farm– Farmers know their land the best and the FMS will help simplify insights into actionable decisions.
And speaking of training, a good FMS will also include one-on-one expert support and be open to farmer feedback and ideas on how to make the system even better.
Does it provide connectivity that goes beyond mobile?
Connectivity on the farm can be challenging, with limited to no cellular service available. Look for an FMS that is fully functional offline and auto-syncs. Poor connectivity can result in a poor user experience. If the experience is frustrating, you’re likely to just delete the app and not get the full value out of its features.
So, explore FMS’s that successfully leverage offline capabilities.
Does it help you look at the bigger picture?
Investing in solutions like an FMS today will propel efficiencies tomorrow and set the stage for a grower’s legacy to be easily transitioned to the next generation.
Additionally, efficient integrated farm management systems help you reduce negative impacts on the environment. Here’s how:
It helps to reduce agricultural GHG emissions.
It helps growers meet the rising demand for food while minimizing pressures on the environment.
And it helps meet societal expectations for sustainable food sourcing.
An integrated FMS like My Farm Manager from Decisive Farming can easily generate reports for all aspects of production including identity preserved, specialty crops, and organics.