Keep Track Of Field Information

FIELD1 FIELD2 FIELD3 FIELD4 FIELD5 FIELD6 FIELD7 FIELD8 FIELD9 FIELD10 FIELD11 FIELD12 FIELD13 FIELD14 FIELD15 FIELD40

LAND CODE

TOTALS

FIELD NAME SEC TWSP RNG MER RM

Owner Tenant

SEEDED ACRES

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

CROP & VARIETY

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

NET YIELD

per field

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0 $

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

GROSS INCOME

$ –

$0.00 –

EXPENSES

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$ –

$0.00 –

NET INCOME

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$

$0.00 –

RATE OF RETURN

#DIV/0!

#DIV/0!

#DIV/0!

#DIV/0!

#DIV/0!

#DIV/0!

#DIV/0!

#DIV/0!

#DIV/0!

#DIV/0!

#DIV/0!

#DIV/0!

#DIV/0!

#DIV/0!

#DIV/0!

#DIV/0!

#DIV/0!

“Head down to the quarter behind the old Jones’s barn.” Simple enough directions for someone who grew up in the same house you did, but as farms expand past municipal borders and non-family members help out at seeding and harvest, more details and better field record keeping are required. A few sheets of paper in each truck and tractor as well as a copy at home base will not only keep everyone organized, they could help in an emergency too.

Wayne Kunz farms with cousins Rod, Carey and Kalen Kunz at Annaheim, Sask., and is an agricultural advisor with Myers Norris Penny at Humboldt. The farm already has a spreadsheet set up to track management of each field, but Kunz took the extra step last year to add a layer of detail and organization to the system. Adding field maps referenced to the spreadsheet has improved traffic direction and overall farm management.

Kunz says that hiring a new employee who was unfamiliar with a neighbouring RM brought to light a shortfall in their field management. “Not everyone knows the name of each field. We’re all familiar with our own fields, but it’s easy to forget that employees need a bit more direction,” he says. They’ve made a map with each field highlighted and numbered, major grid roads marked and included a list of legal land descriptions as well. It’s made getting equipment to the

The Farmer’s Field Management Program can keep track of up to 40 fields and goes beyond simply tracking field work. This screen shot of the program shows how you can track income, costs and rate of return.

right field easier even with new employees. Kunz adds that it also could be used to direct emergency personnel should the need arise, not something everyone wants to think about but an important point, nonetheless.

THE SEED LEDGER

In addition to a more detailed map that lives in each truck, tractor, sprayer and combine, Kunz created what they call the ledger — an at-a-glance look at each field (there are 67), planned fertilizer rate, intended crop and number of acres for the year. There’s a column for keeping track of burn off date, date seeded, in-crop spray and a column called “weeds” that Kunz says is to take note of problem weeds or other unique aspects of each field, such as rocks or sloughs, to watch for.

The ledger simplifies dealing with hail insurance, too. Because the ledger already includes the legal description of each field, planned seeded acres and intended crop, it was easy to add a column marked planned hail insurance level. “Once we’ve completed our actual seeded acres, we just print it out and send it to our hail insurance rep with the level of coverage we want for each field,” he says. “They do up all the paperwork and just send us our bill (for premiums).”

READY MADE OPTIONS

Spreadsheets can become powerful databases, if you make full use of all the bells and whistles Excel offers. For those who want to take field tracking one step further and link it to an overall financial picture, there’s the new Farmer’s Field Management Program.

After 15 years as field manager at Sovereign Colony at Rosetown, Sask., George Wipf just wasn’t satisfied with his field management tracking. He started playing around with an Excel spreadsheet but still couldn’t quite accomplish everything he wanted to do. Wipf contacted Nancy de Coninck Smith, a part-time computer instructor and together they developed the Farmer’s Field Management Program — a detailed spreadsheet that not only tracks what’s happened on up to 40 fields, but also how much return each field produces. The program tracks all operations, income and expenses by field and by acre. It includes an ongoing calculation and chart of expenses and a worksheet to keep track of bins and sloughs. Add to that the handy fertilizer calculator that calculates cost per acre and cost per blended tonne that’s included in the $150 price tag and well, it becomes a “field manager’s best friend.”

Don’t let the Excel platform fool you — this is one sophisticated tracking program. Wipf and de Coninck Smith have worked hard to include as many functions as possible to make a farmer’s life easier. From the at-a-glance master sheet summarizing all field information, to the individual per acre income and expense breakdown, all the way to information on where the crop from that fields is stored, the program becomes an invaluable resource.

The program comes with a detailed instruction booklet so even those without a lot of Excel experience can make use of it. The program includes comments within the spreadsheet cells to give precise instructions as to what to include in each, as well. It’s built to be as detailed or as general as you like, and includes a handy “scenario” sheet where you can compare varying fertilizer costs, break-evens and gauge what effect varying management might have on eventual cash flow.

“I’m finally happy with my field tracking,” Wipf says. Now he has details for every field and each year builds off the last, making it easy to check long-term field history as well.

Both a homemade Excel sheet and the Farmer’s Field Management program could be updated remotely using a smart phone or pocket PC, however physical copies do have some advantages. Sometimes just jotting down a quick note is easier and faster than worrying about fumbling with tiny buttons. There’s also the matter of comfort level and accessibility. As Kunz puts it, not everyone is that keen on entering data like this on a tiny touch screen; some evening or winter hours are likely going to be spent entering in data.

For more information on Farmer’s Field Management Program, contact George Wipf at 306-831-9131 or email Nancy de Coninck Smith [email protected]

Lyndsey Smith is editor of Grainews. Contact

her at [email protected]

About the author

Lyndsey Smith's recent articles

Comments

explore

Stories from our other publications