Wednesday, 14 September 2016 06:55

Pooling farm data online gets the nod

Written by 
Miles Hurrell, Fonterra. Miles Hurrell, Fonterra.

LIC has reported positive feedback from farmers trialling an online tool which stores their data.

The tool, developed by Fonterra and LIC, brings together a farmer's milk production and quality data, herd data, pasture data, local weather forecasts, etc into one online portal.

LIC is trialling the tool with 50 farmers for their feedback on how the system works and what information they would like to be included.

Waikato farmer Ross Crabb says having all his data in one place, also available on his mobile phone, will be an advantage.

"The speed of the information is key: it's all there in one place, on one page, and you can quickly look through to find what you want to know without having to log on to different sites."

Farmers can choose what information they want and how it is displayed on their screen, an appealing feature says Crabb.

"Every farmer gets up in the morning looking for certain things. Every farmer is different, so to be able to get the information you always look for at your fingertips makes the technology useful. There is a menu of different information sources and you can pick which ones you want on your screen.

"The ability to drag and drop the panels means each of us can decide what our screen looks like and where our information is shown. You can set individual limits and get alerts on, say, your cows' somatic cell count."

LIC says interested business partners see it as a way to deliver value to their customers.

"The farmers on the trial are also telling us what data sources they use so we can talk to these providers about being part of the project," LIC says.

Helping to develop the online solution is Figured, a company founded by farmers for farmers. Figured provides real time budgeting tools that work with Xero accounting software.

Fonterra chief operating officer Farm Source Miles Hurrell says the tool responds to what farmers want – one place to access all the data sources they use, to improve onfarm performance.

"Currently farmers have lots of data sources, all developed in isolation," Hurrell says. "They have asked for a way to bring all those data sources together in one place. This would reduce the need for double entry of data. It will also give them the ability to benchmark their farm against others using aggregated data, leading to more productivity and profitability.

"The technology is aimed at helping farmers trim costs and use their resources efficiently."

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee says today's farmers have so much information and an ever-increasing range of technology on offer. Both can add huge value to a farming business, to support more informed decisionmaking and improved profitability, but accessing and using the information to make decisions can be difficult.

"Farmers have told us they want simplicity, they want one place to see all their records and information and they want it in real time."

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