Software firm eyes unprecedented farm efficiency
Strong business practices are integral to success on the farm. From analyzing field work and inputs to commodity prices and the cost of production, crunching the numbers has never been more crucial.
There’s just one problem: Much of that information is stored separately in Excel spreadsheets, accounting software and paper form. To store and analyze an array of farm data while managing work assignments, a new company called Granular Inc. has developed a cloud-based software platform.
"Farmers have the same need to build a really detailed plan and schedule and then execute that plan efficiently in the growing cycle," says Sid Gorham, CEO of Granular. "They need to use all of that information to make the right decisions around grain marketing, business expansion and future crop cycles."
Use of the system allows operations, such as Tom Farms LLC of Leesburg, Ind., to dispatch, send work orders and allocate resources to operators in the field while tracking associated costs, says Kip Tom, managing member of Tom Farms. His operation is one of seven in the Midwest that will beta test the software.
Tom says Granular is an exciting development because it will limit duplication of work and allow
for earlier analysis of business practices. Previously, the farm used Excel files with hundreds of tabs and CenterPoint accounting software to manage data. Eventually, he expects Granular will streamline all of it.
"In the future, we’ll be considering weather data and how prior data in similar years affected our ability to plant our crop by a certain date," Tom says.
The Tom Farms management team will access the Granular platform through a web application. Other team members will use a mobile app with work orders and collaboration tools.
Granular intends to deliver accounting functionality either through a partnership or by building its own tools, Gorham explains. Additionally, the company plans to partner or integrate with manufacturers of various precision ag and machine-control software.
The subscription service will be available for purchase this summer for an annual per-acre cost. Additional business tools and functionality for smaller operations are planned in the future.
The cloud-based software platform from Granular aims to help farm operators by providing:
1 Better information collection. Until producers know how long it takes them to do something, they can’t do it faster. By planning and monitoring their operations via the Granular system, farmers can collect statistics to drive efficiency within and across crop cycles.
2 Information integration. Because Excel, paper and accounting records are disconnected, it’s hard for farmers to get an end-to-end understanding of their process or profitability. This, in turn, makes it hard to make the best business decisions or quickly improve efficiency.
- March 2014