Southland farmer Megan Vande Sandt went looking for a new way of recording farm information and has found software that fits.
Megan and her husband Justin run a 240ha drystock and grazing operation on the outskirts of Mossburn in northern Southland, which includes grazing dairy heifers for 21 months as well as leasing out Jersey sires.
Like many farming partnerships they divvy up the duties, with Justin focusing more on running the day-to-day farming and Megan running the bookwork side of things, as well as doing seasonal work off the farm organising calf contracts. She makes sure the right information is being recorded for any farm activity or event.
“I got sick of having too many notebooks for farm recording,” says Megan. “I would have to write things down and then bring them back to the house, and I might forget something. I thought, ‘It would be so useful if I could put the information in using my phone’. Now I can. It’s so much easier.”
Through spring and summer, when it’s busier, Megan estimates it takes her about an hour a week to keep the online farm records up to date.
The reporting is handy too. “When the farm assurance person visits, it’s all in our online farm database,” says Megan. “I go click, click and print a report.”
“Also, it makes it easy for the grazing billing at the end of the month. There’s an animal health section in the invoice and I can plug in the details of what we’ve done.”
Recently they were weighing some cattle down at the yards and they could look up on the phone how recently the animals had been drenched.
The software also includes a product inventory. “Tracking drenches is quite a focus for the farm assurance, so we are using it to record when we bought animal health products and how much we used, and it will produce a report that shows how much is left.”
She likes the fact that the farm information is all together. “For example, instead of looking through notebooks for each year to see what has been planted in what paddock, it’s all in one place and easy to bring up.”
They are in development mode, she explains. “We want to grow as much grass as possible – to push the place.” The place is subdivided into 45 paddocks which are managed individually. They do about 40ha of cropping each year in a rotation of swedes, kale and barley, peas or oats. In developing areas they sow turnips.
“There is a bit of setup with the software,” says Megan. “For example you need to put in some paddock history before you can enter bale counts. But then it helps you keep track of what you’ve done where.”
They aim to use health and safety features in the software to help them work with contractors coming onto the farm. This includes a map of hazards that they can show the contractor before they go out.
Want to know more about the farm management software that will make life easier for the person doing the farm bookwork?