Why more growers are turning to electronic recordkeeping—and the options they might consider
By Emmy Wade
Every business owner should keep good records, and tobacco growers are no exception. In order to run a successful operation, financial statements, receipts and tax-deductible expenses are a weekly—if not daily—concern.
In our electronic age, an increasing number of business owners are abandoning the traditional paper-and-file records and turning to electronic recordkeeping. The shift away from paper offers many advantages. First, it is easier to categorize records electronically. Paper notes or receipts are easier to lose, particularly in the wake of natural disasters like the flooding that struck this past fall. Generally, there is less room for human error if the system is electronic, and input errors are often quicker and easier to spot.
It’s also easier electronically to maintain consistency from year to year and with multiple managers. If the file system must change hands, it is less likely that the preferences of the business owner will be compromised.
Many software packages effectively serve tobacco growers’ interests. In fact, there are some great options tailored specifically for agricultural business owners.
FarmLogic, an associate member of GAP Connections that is powered by TapLogic, is a combined Web- and mobile-based records system. This system is specifically designed for Good Agricultural Practices recordkeeping compliance. FarmLogic offers a comprehensive package, including a GAP module, with a discount available for GAP Connections members and premium members. Services offered by FarmLogic include a soil test program performed for less than $5 an acre (although prices vary depending on the lab used), a special program for service providers, a tank mix calculator and a dry grain calculator, all in addition to forms for daily farming operations, service records and work orders. The service is available for a one-time fee, and updates are automatic and free of charge.
Agrian, another GAP Connections associate member, is best-known for a comprehensive label lookup system that enables easy access to labels, SDS sheets and basic application information. Agrian Applicator, the basic recordkeeping system, is free. But for a small monthly fee, Agrian also has different software packages tailored to the needs of growers, crop advisers and companies. Like FarmLogic, Agrian software can be accessed on mobile devices. A link to the Agrian website is provided on the GAP Connections website, and it is available for all GAP members to use.
Agri360, run by New Zealand-based company Agrimap, offers a Web-based records system the company touts as “a diary [crossed] with a filing cabinet.” Agri360 is a good program for those who rely often on team collaboration; the user can invite others and manage visibility of certain records. It is also easy to leave the farm in the hands of others when necessary. The primary user can leave instructions, and the invited team members can update the status of tasks to be completed.
FarmLogs offers a wide variety of services specifically for growers, including inventory management, activity tracking and input planning. In addition to electronic recordkeeping tools, they also offer packages to assist with production, such as rainfall tracking, field mapping and soil composition maps. FarmLogs also offers iPhone and Android apps for smartphones.
iCropTrak is a primarily mobile- and cloud-based system. The website offers three specific software packages designed for workers (focusing on in-field data entry), big growers (specialized for team management) and office workers (optimized for management of workforce and large teams).