Software tools for the small scale grower
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Crop Planning and Record Keeping
The best tool I have found for small scale organic growers is AgSquared (http://www.agsquared.com). This is a well thought out and designed tool for handling planning, harvesting, tracking and scheduling tasks associated with all aspects of crop production. The program has a module for mapping all field and beds including size and locations. You create planting records specific to each cropping year/season. So when you view the field and bed layouts, you can see what has been planted in a specific bed each year/season. This is indespensible proper crop rotation planning. The Crop module lets you view Plantings by Year/Season and easily duplicate a planting for succession planning and then just change the specific date information.
For startup operations I highly recommend Banktivity (https://www.iggsoftware.com/banktivity). This is the best personal financial application on the market and very suitable for handling a small farming operation. The application allows you to import all you information directly from you banking and credit card sources and will automatically assign categories to each transaction. You can create different types of accounts to track chequing, savings, credit cards, mortages, loans, etc. You can also create Smart Accounts which you select to display transactions from accounts and specific categories. I created specific business categories to reflect all farm expenses and income. The application has a very robust reporting module that allows you to precisely select just the account and transaction information you want based on your defined date range. So come tax time you can bring up the report with all the pertinent information.
I also use PayPal (https://www.paypal.com/us/home) for creating and sending invoices to customers. This works well when you have relatively simple list of products and few customers. This also lets me accept credit card payments from the few which choose to pay this way.
As your business grows and you start having full time employees then you may want to consider Sage One (http://www.sage.com/ca/sage-one) or Quickbooks (https://quickbooks.intuit.ca) that handle payroll activities. This are both full accounting programs with chart of accounts and debit/credit entry.
Online Marketing for CSA and Food Hubs
Farmigo (https://www.farmigo.com) is an excellent application for any grower that has a medium to large CSA or for groups of growers marketing as a food hub. The application allows your CSA members to sign up on their own, choose payment scheme, and make selections on the size and items in their weekly box. This is very flexible and the best part is that it does not require your supervision for your members to make changes. You can provide weekly updates on crop availability and any changes to boxes each week. You can print off picking lists for you staff so they know exactly what to harvest and by when. You can track crops from multiple farms for accounting purposes. All the payment information can be downloaded to accounting programs such as Quickbooks.