FarmLogic emphasizes mobile convenience, ease of use and anywhere access. Although field records can be entered and accessed with an office computer, the preferred way of adding new information and reviewing existing records is with a Trimble Nomad rugged handheld computer with a built-in camera. The handheld is set up to automatically synchronize records stored on the FarmLogic server computer using a wireless Internet modem or a cellular data communications package.
The Nomad is shipped with FarmLogic software installed, but with no instruction manual. “We made it bone, bone simple,” says Hoyt Choate, a former Missouri Bootheel farmer. “All your history is there. All you have to do is click on it. There's no instruction manual. There are no classes. That's what I was looking for when I was farming hard.”
FarmLogic records key tillage, planting, spraying and harvest information. It is set up to take notes and photos and draws from an online database to allow users to download satellite images of their fields. It automatically downloads crop chemical information needed for EPA restricted-use pesticide reports. The current version doesn't include financial functions, but the company will add them by the end of the year.
FarmLogic, including a Trimble Nomad, sells for $3,340. A Web-only version retails for $1,000. The annual subscription fee is $810, which includes server access, unlimited service and support, plus all software upgrades.
The Pioneer GrowingPoint online record-keeping system is available free to Pioneer Hi-Bred customers. The application allows growers to record planting operations by field, plus herbicide, insecticide and fertilizer applications. It tracks individual field and farm expenses and can compare financials from field to field. It also can generate reports documenting restricted-use pesticide applications.
The application tracks estimated precipitation and growing degree units in each field, as well as projected growth of Pioneer brand hybrids, according to Sue Hoover, Pioneer marketing director.
The record-keeping system is integrated with the Pioneer FIT Mapping System. Under that program, the company and its local sales representatives provide complimentary as-planted or yield maps and harvest summary reports compiled from customer yield monitor data. These are available online and can be accessed along with crop input and financial data.
The module-based AgFleet, from ZedX, offers a range of capabilities to assist with basic field record keeping, creating GIS-based field zones, managing irrigation, grid soil sampling, field scouting, preseason planning, and analyzing the effectiveness of specific field treatments. Because it was originally designed for agricultural retailers, it also includes a module for blending fertilizer.
“From the preseason on, you can track every bit of data throughout the season,” says Nate Taylor, a business analyst at ZedX. The program's scouting module was developed for use with Windows Mobile smartphones. This allows scouting data to be uploaded directly from the field and gives farm operators immediate access to scouting reports.
AgFleet links directly to major soil testing laboratories. This allows soil test data to be downloaded directly to AgFleet, which reduces turnaround time and eliminates data reentry, Taylor says.
An individual annual subscription for the full suite of AgFleet modules is $995. Additional retail and dealer-level subscription packages are also available.
Some PC-based crop management software providers have added Internet and Web tools to simplify critical tasks. MapShots has an application that automatically downloads files from data cards and uploads them via an Internet connection to selected service providers for processing.
Both AgLeader and John Deere provide downloads of satellite images of fields via the Internet for use in their SMS (AgLeader) and Apex (John Deere) field record-keeping software.
Farm Works offers two software products to automate file transfers from the field. Its Sync software enables yield and other field data to be transferred to an office computer through a wireless connection or an Internet-based cellular data service. It also offers Dispatch, which adds vehicle tracking to Sync's capabilities.
Ag Connections plans to offer a Web-based crop management software product by 2010. Currently, it offers a Web viewer application that allows customers to upload data from a central PC to a server computer to allow managers at multiple locations to view the same data using a proprietary Web browser. To allow managers at multiple locations to record data in the same records database, it offers a server-based upload/download procedure to synchronize files at multiple locations as changes occur.
In 2010, SST Software will introduce a Web viewer that will allow service providers to share data with customers, including field activities and recommendations, and allow them to print maps and reports. By 2011, the company will release a full Web version of SST Summit, its mapping and record-keeping software package. Currently, SST Summit customers use the Web to download imagery and software updates, create routing maps and synchronize data.