ARDRIE, Alta. — Farmers have a number of software offerings on the table when it comes to operational management.
However, few were built by a farmer, for a farmer or stretch from pre-seed planning through the receiving buyers’ payments and reconciliation of inventory.
Larry Woolliams, who farms in the foothills north of Calgary, started Platinum Agricultural Solutions with three partners — two fellow farmers and a farming, professional-software developer — and called their product Crop Boss, because “that describes it.”
Woolliams began his path to being a software developer with the needs of his own farm.
“We had some software, some of it talked to each other, most didn’t. We had a lot of Excel (spreadsheets). And it meant we had a lot of duplication of efforts and created delays in having the information we needed for decision making,” he said.
Woolliams’ 9,000-acre grain operation, in the foothills north of Calgary, Alta., has a diverse operational plan with production on owned-land, rented land, both cash and crop-share, and the provision of custom operations. Over a mix of crops, including malt and feed barley, canola, peas and wheat, he has spread fertilizer, seeding rate and fungicide trials, advanced agronomy approaches, including variable-rate seeding.
The Woolliams farm turned paperless last year using the technology and Crop Boss was released for other producers May 15.
Fields, like they are in the foothills and pothole country in the West, can be any shape. Crop Boss can import and automatically size maps, create prescription zones, follow machinery in the field and follow input inventories back to units remaining in air seeders’ tanks while they roll. The system tracks grain from carts and combines, all the way to the bins.
“For things like (intellectual property) production you get a complete history from seed to customer,” Woolliams said.
It is all internet-based and can be read in the office or on the go with any internet-connected mobile device. And it can be selectively shared with farm staff, agronomists and farm partners, depending on their needs.
Sprayer applications start with product inventory, provide recommended rates for most products and plan the loading, eliminating manual calculations and leftovers or unplanned shortages in the field. It also provides information for water tendering.
“We have to buy our water, so it allows us to reconcile our invoices,” said Woolliams.
For custom work, it enables farmers to automatically generate invoices in the field, as the work is completed.
At harvest, binned grain locations are managed, with alerts for potentially mixing grain in partial bins. Other alerts are for low inventories of products that are planned or used.
Producers can also project yields and costs and at the end of the year see margins based on fields or crops and provide instant analysis for lenders, landlords and partners.
“We can see immediately crop-shares and so can our partners,” he said.
Scouting maps are integrated and tracking tools used by staff and agronomist are built in.
Integrated crop insurance forms and other tools keep further report generation to a minimum.
“We can also customize it and integrate it into livestock operations,” said Woolliams.
Crop Boss is an annual subscription product with rates based on farm-size and enterprise need.
For more information, contact Woolliams at 403-660-6722 or visit www.cropboss.ca.