March 9, 2013 11:33 AM

Budget Better With Interactive Tool

The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri has developed an interactive online tool called Farm Cost and Return Tool, or "Farm CART," to help farmers build more accurate budgets for their operations.

"This tool allows beginning farmers and ranchers all over the country to play a what-if game on the web," says Peter Zimmel, FAPRI economist. "They can develop a farm with how many acres they want, how many animals they want and then see what it will look like financially over the next five years."

FAPRI developed Farm CART for those interested in beginning to farm or expanding their operations, but Zimmel says the tool can be useful for anyone wanting to make better-informed financial decisions.

"With the risk that is involved in agriculture, you really need to plan for the future," he says.

"What’s the future look like for your farming operation? Is it feasible to continue to farm the way you’re farming?"

Farm CART uses baseline projections produced annually by FAPRI and USDA. That way, farmers can get started easily—but there are additional options as well, Zimmel says.

"All the information we start them with, all the costs for seed, fertilizer or chemicals, is there," he says. "But if they want to, they can customize that to their specific operation and change every number in the tool."

Farm CART is free and available for use online at

Topcon Launches Integrated Steering Setup

Topcon Precision Agriculture has announced the debut of AGI-4, an integrated steering setup that can easily interface with many manufacturer’s virtual terminals.

"The AGI-4 is an industry first in all-in-one integrated receiver/steering controllers," says Kevin Cobb, director of product management for Topcon Precision Agriculture.

Features include multiple-constellation GNSS satellite reception, inertial sensors and full-terrain compensation with superior line acquisition and holding capabilities. The design includes antenna, receiver and steering controller in a single component that allows for easy upgrades, he notes.

Additional NTRIP capability allows users to use existing reference networks through their mobile phone connection (if one is locally available) and uses existing data plans and infrastructure to minimize additional costs. Compatibility is another big plus to AIG-4, Cobb adds.

"Being compatible with the displays of many other manufacturers lets the AGI-4 steering controller give true drop-in-and-drive convenience," he says.

FarmLogs Makes More Mobile Moves

Farm management software company FarmLogs is just a year old, but the startup is already making big waves in the agriculture industry. Company officials announced a recent $1 million seed funding round co-led by Huron River Ventures and Hyde Park Venture Partners. This funding will allow FarmLogs to expand its team and develop its mobile apps in time for this year’s planting season.

The intent of FarmLogs is to help replace paper record-keeping with software that can be accessed via smartphone or web browser.

Co-founder Jesse Vollmar, who grew up on a farm near Caro, Mich., says he started FarmLogs to address challenges he experienced firsthand.

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