Wairakaia Partnership used to run on spreadsheets but cropping manager and co-owner Bruce Graham got tired of having to retrospectively enter all his data back in the office at night, instead of being able to do so in the field. Bruce also was not able to access his farm data when he needed it most: in the field.
After seeing what Agworld could offer him at the Fieldays agricultural show, Bruce decided to implement Agworld in his farming operation in 2014. He and his full time worker now both use Agworld on a daily basis.
By utilising Agworld, Bruce is now able to create records wherever he is and access historical data at the same time. Because of the detailed historical data that Wairakaia Partnership has at its disposal, they are able to make informed decisions about which crops to continue to grow, which crops should either not be grown anymore or, with a different crop-management strategy.
Farming with a view
Bruce Graham, together with his wife, brother-in-law and sister-in-law, literally farm with a view, with their location just south of Poverty Bay in the Gisborne area. They boast some magnificent views over their fields and the ocean right from the homestead up on a hill; a location that most people can only dream of. It was in 2014 however when Bruce decided that he needed a different kind of view on his farm: one that showed him the exact performance of each field, without elaborate spreadsheets or hours spent in an office. Bruce explains: “I had been running on spreadsheets for years, but I knew enough of the limitations to realise that I needed something more sophisticated.”
“You can’t really use spreadsheets in the field so my backlog would just build up and then I’d have to sit down in my office for hours to feed all the data into my spreadsheets; it just didn’t work for me. Once I found out about Agworld, I knew it was exactly what I needed: a platform that I can use in the field to limit the time I have to spend in my office for data entry. The best part for me is that it finally gives me the visibility that I need: knowing exactly how our business is functioning, where we spend the money and where we are making our profit. It just felt like we turned on a light. All of a sudden we were able to see what we hadn’t been able to see before, namely the profit or loss per field and all detailed data behind it.”
A mixed operation
Bruce and his family run a mixed farming operation with mainly sheep and beef cattle on 600 hectares of land, of which 100 hectares are used for cropping in an average year. Main crops grown are maize, seed maize, seed sweet corn and squash. The family also has a 10-hectare orchard with mandarins and oranges, which was planted between 1999 and 2004. The whole farming operation is dry land except for the orchard, which can be irrigated, but only in exceptionally dry circumstances, or twice in the past 10 years. Bruce also does a bit of contracting work on the side, mainly planting maize or seed corn, for neighbours in the area.
Because some of the crops, mainly the squash and citrus, get sold for human consumption, keeping a spray diary has always been very important for Bruce. “We have to submit spray diaries for everything that gets sent for human consumption, otherwise the buyers won’t accept our produce. With Agworld this has become really easy: I just run a report and send it to whomever needs it; they can then do with it whatever they like. Unlike spreadsheets, which make it hard to create specific reports for certain parts of the data available, Agworld has tailormade reporting options which make this process very easy for me.”
With running a diverse farming operation, comes a wide range of financial performance figures, which make it easy to lose track of where the money is made and where it isn’t. Bruce elaborates: “One of the things I really like about Agword is the ability to see a snapshot of my operation’s financial performance wherever I am, whenever I want to. During the season I can see at all times what a field is costing me and whether it is efficient to carry on doing what we’re doing. And with Agworld, I have the ability to carry many years’ information on my phone and access it, even when I’m out of cellphone range. It’s that kind of transparency that really helps me make the best decisions possible.”
“At harvest time, as soon as I put the yields into Agworld, I know what the profit margin is for my business. With this information in mind, we’re making a decision at the moment on our oranges for example. At this stage, they are not producing very well and are not producing much more profit than seed maize which is an annual crop giving you the option to change your mind after a year, whereas oranges are a permanent crop. So, we’re nearly in the position where we may rip them out, because I know what I can make on those same hectares with different crops. I had a feeling that the oranges weren’t doing well but, because I have all the data available in Agworld, I know the exact figures, which allows me to make an educated decision.”
“Originally we were only using Agworld for the row cropping side of our operation and we weren’t keeping very good track of our citrus records. But now that we’ve been using Agworld on the tree side of our operation, I’m finding it certainly helps us work out what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it.”
Bruce concludes with: “Agworld makes our critical farm data available to us in a way that allows us to utilise it. Financial accounting data is important too, but those figures don’t paint a complete picture. Agworld takes all costs associated with a field into account, including the actual cost to run a piece of machinery for example. Accounting figures on the other hand don’t take depreciation into account, so they don’t show me the actual cost per field to grow a crop. That’s what Agworld brings to us: management accounting made easy and accessible, which enables us as a partnership to make the most profitable decisions moving forward. And with Agworld I can spend less time in the office… not unimportant either for a farmer like myself who would rather spend time in the field!”
"That’s what Agworld brings to us: management accounting made easy and accessible, which enables us as a partnership to make the most profitable decisions moving forward."
The Pye Group is a large and diversified family agricultural operation that previously had no accurate visibility into the profitability and viability of individual fields. The business managers did not know whether or not certain crops or fields were profitable and neither did they know the exact cost involved in a specific application or operation.