Easy-to-use comprehensive crop and farm management software that comes with unlimited, reliable six-day and evening support? It may sound too good to be true, but that’s the promise that Affinity is offering to Canadian farmers signing up to use the Compass Grower Advanced software program.
The software, delivered on a Microsoft platform is designed to cover all aspects of crop production and farm management, says Neal Dilawri, president of Affinity, based in Oakville, Ont.
Producers can use the software to do their crop planning, including what-if scenarios, and figure out the products and inputs they need. It will hold field maps, soil test information, input prescriptions and treatments, yield information, and track crop inventory in the bin. It can also tie in with software systems offered by equipment manufacturers. The software also offers a comprehensive accounting program, which you can manage yourself, or co-manage with your accountant — just provide a password to your accountant and they can access the information themselves.
“There are other good systems out there, but the real magic of the Compass program is the support that goes with it,” says Dilawri. “It is easy to use and very intuitive, but we know there are always questions: ‘I’m stuck. Why is this happening? I can’t get this to work. How do I get these reports to work they way they are supposed to?’ We don’t just throw you a disk and say take a Tylenol and good luck.”
Affinity provides both unlimited on-line and telephone support. Call with a question and someone will get back to you within 24 hours. Affinity provides a one-on-one live demo of the software, which is followed up by their internal Canadian-based support service.
There are two versions — one for farmers starting out with their first farm management software, and one for those who have an existing record keeping system. The exact degree of compatibility between the existing program and Compass is a case-by-case question, but the support team will work with the farmer to help them transfer the information.
It’s not an app
“This is software, not an app,” says Dilawri. “It is built on the Microsoft platform so it will work with all computers and smart phones. There is some question about how protected information is on an app, but that isn’t an issue with our software. “Affinity is also able to store each farmers information in ‘the cloud’ so there is no need for other backup. “Even if our company disappeared tomorrow, because it is a Microsoft software program, the whole Compass program is still there. They can still use it and access their information.”
Compass is all-inclusive. Farmers can keep track of all their field records, crop records, soil test information, GSI mapping, and crop treatments. The other main component is the accounting package which allows the farmer to keep track of and manage all their farm financial information, farm planning, marketing and budgeting information.”
The next level of features are coming soon. It will be able to offer features such as crop traceability. “We are seeing that more now in the United States,” says Dilawri. “More farmers are needing or wanting to have that crop traceability function, so this software is designed to be able to accommodate that in Canada.” Another coming feature of the Compass software is the ability to connect crop production records directly with crop insurance.
Collaboration with BASF
The Compass Grower Advanced software was developed in a collaboration between Affinity and the crop protection company BASF. “BASF wanted to offer this comprehensive crop and farm management software as an additional value to their customers,” says Dilawri. “But you don’t have to be a BASF customer to access it and use it. It is available to all farmers.” The software is available to producers on a monthly subscription basis and is not related to farm size.
While the Compass farm management software will be of particular value to farmers cropping 5,000 acres or more looking to control and manage their own data and use all the analytical features it offers, Dilawri says the software is also being used by smaller operators with a couple thousand or just a few hundred acres.
The software is available to farmers two ways. A producer can buy the software, install it on their own computer and input all their information themselves. Or, farmers can take their information to their BASF dealer and have them input the information.
“It is easy to use,” says Dilawri, “and we have really focused on providing the support because there is always going to be a question. On the Microsoft platform it works with all systems you already have,” he says. “And farmers do own their own data. It has nothing to do with us or with BASF. It is your data, we don’t have access to it. And if a person decided three or five years down the road they wanted to try some other software program, they can take their information with them. We don’t hold their information ransom.”
For more information on the Compass software contact your BASF product rep or retailer, or contact Affinity Canada directly at 1-866-278-9530 or visit their website.