Many excellent grazing management apps are available today. So many choices can be overwhelming and make it hard to know which one to use. My favourite analogy is entering a shop to buy a can of tuna and walking out with a pack of Tim Tams.
I know you know this, and I'm here to help guide you through this decision. What I'm going to show you today is that there is a quick and sure-fire way, so you don't let yourself get blindsided by bias. This process will allow you to make the perfect choice every time.
We've touched on pasture apps before with the farm apps review dealing with measured pasture covers. However, times have changed a bit, which leaves open the door for a bit more spruce on the matter.
This guide isn't about comparing apps, as that is for you to do. This guide is about guiding you in the direction of making the best decision when choosing which grazing app to work with.
We all want the same thing, and I'm prepared to bet my left arm on what this is. This same thing is a grazing app that suits our management styles and importantly makes us money out of grass.
1. Why use a grazing management app on your farm?
In this guide, we're going to cover the fundamentals of making the right choice that will ultimately lead to making the best grazing decisions. After all, it's the best grazing decisions that yield sustainable results and more giant buckets of farm profit.
2. How to choose a farm management app?
If you haven't already done your research, you'll find many stark differences between these apps. All have their unique value proposition that'll make you feel like you're facing a wall of canned tuna!
To get past this feeling, I'd suggest describing what you want from an app. What value do you want to derive? How do you want the app to integrate into your farm operations? Then you can dive into the world of investigating what is out there.
The plethora of different options available can lead to Catch 22. If you don't define your requirements in an app before setting out on a grazing app exploration, you could find yourself a little overwhelmed. And ultimately wasting a lot of precious time.
Let me go back to the analogy of walking into a shop to buy tuna. You see if you have too many choices in branding, packaging, flavours, sizes, promotions, etc., you're on a fast track to saying "stuff it" and going straight for the Tim Tams.
For example, you have a higher chance of walking out with tuna and not Tim Tams if you say the following before walking into a shop. I want to buy five 95g tins of tomato and chile flavoured tuna in extra virgin olive oil! Then again, you might wish to buy Tim Tams, for which there seem to be a growing choice and perhaps you will then walk out with tuna ugh!
The key message here is that preparation is the remedy for defeating the paradox of choice.
By defining what you want, you're bound to spend less wasted time being side-tracked staring blankly at the plethora of choices.
3. How to align grazing app features to fit your farm business?
When defining your grazing management app requirements, write up a list of questions to consider. There are no boundaries to this list as we'll explore further. To get you started, here are several examples to consider:
- Do you want more than what a spreadsheet can provide?
- Are you looking for a digital paddock app that records all of your paddock records from spreading fertiliser to spraying chemicals, to applying effluent?
- Do you want an app that seamlessly connects to external data other than your farm records such as local weather data and satellite imagery?
- Is the new frontier of remote pasture measuring a journey you want to pioneer with a growing community of fellow farmers?
- Do you want an app that is both web and phone-based so you can comfortably use it in the office or the field?
- Does the company behind the app need to have a grounded connection to agriculture? We call this #homegrownagtech
- Does the company have to be easily contactable and provide support in many formats to help you achieve your goals?
- Would a transparent development roadmap give you a clearer picture of where a company is heading?
- Can the farm app link with other farm apps and service providers?
- Can you benchmark from season to season, farm to farm, paddock to paddock?
- Are models used to supercharge the value of your farm records, providing you with better numbers for decision making?
Before you let these questions sink in, let's now use our glass ball technique and look into the future.
As your business evolves, so will your management style and your requirements of the tools you use. By first defining your needs, finding a grazing app will be tenfold easier.
4. How to future proof your farm business for success with a grazing app?
Next is to get a grasp of your long term goals. By doing so, you're going to remove the headache of wading through this same process again.
There is no point buying a 70hp tractor if you're going to turn around the next year and by a feed wagon that requires a 120hp tractor. The same principle applies here when choosing grazing apps that'll make you money out of precision pasture management.
By making sure your farm business goals are aligned with the company that is developing and maintaining your grazing app, you assure a longterm relationship. As with the tractor analogy, and with any business dealing, forming long and sustainable relationships is a core component to a productive future.
I know you now understand why you want a grazing app, how this app will fit into your business, and you've tackled your current needs in an app. You've now lined up your ducks and have a clear grasp on your future requirements. After all, nobody likes an impending headache!
Now we can move onto a requirement that is often the critical deciding element. You guessed it, the cost of the software!
5. How much should a grazing app cost?
First up, I'm not going to beat around the bush here. I'm going to say something that might sound counterintuitive to your way of operating. Please bear with me. Here goes.
Cost should be the last deciding element in your decision making and wait for it. Price should only be applied in your decision making if you genuinely can't decide between two farm apps of similar functions and features.
Now let me explain further. Proper grazing management is defined by the farmers that use measured pasture data to make the best grazing decisions. These informed grazing decisions lead to increased pasture utilisation and enhanced animal performance. All of which supports a robust bottom line of farm profitability.
If you can maximise the value you get out of each grazing decision, you essentially maximise the profitability of your farm.
Higher farm profit may mean you can finally invest in that neighbouring property. Yes, that's right, I'm not talking biccies here. I'm talking about real farm profit that will make the investment in a grazing app look tiny on the balance sheet. In saying so, perhaps you'll pay off debt or employ someone else so you can spend more precious time with your family and friends. The choice is yours, and the results are real with each informed grazing decision you make.
6. How will grazing apps improve my workflow?
Let's summarise the guide with a mix of my own farming experiences and stories I hear daily from fellow farmers.
You opt for a spreadsheet to manage your grazings, which is fantastic! This step is more than most do. Now you have measured pasture covers and want to calculate growth rates. Well, you've got the numbers in a spreadsheet so happy figuring.
After a while, you get tired of fiddling with and cleaning the spreadsheet as it grows too cumbersome and breaks continuously.
You upgrade to a purpose-built pasture app that now allows you to store your pasture covers, calculates growth rates, and displays a feed wedge, kapow! Still, this is no more than a well-built spreadsheet can do, but hey it works, and hey, someone else maintains it for you.
Further to this, your priorities aren't in the space of apps with pressing needs such as feeding animals, spreading fert and daily farm tasks taking their toll. However, something is always niggling you.
You're still recording fert records on that printed map, and goodness knows what date you last renovated that paddock down the back. You start looking for a farm app that will collect all this information too. Let's call this a digital paddock app.
You find one, but it isn't up to scratch for your requirements. It's excellent at being a digital paddock app but falls over when it comes to your pasture and grazing management needs.
You now find yourself using two farm apps with some cross over of double data entry. On top of that, you've gone back to tinkering in a spreadsheet. Word of advice, don't ever think the spreadsheet will die - they have a great purpose and will live on forever yet. I know right, that is always hard to take, as I earnt my stripes in a spreadsheet with the advent of Pasture.io back in 2006.
Time passes, and you're still wondering if there's something else out there. After all, this issue is relatively common right. You've now spent countless hours on research and not to mention the trade-off with frustration. Then you discover the perfect app that does what you want, and on top of that, the app looks future proof. Then it dawns on you. The price is far above any $1.99 app store purchase you've ever made.
Let's put this price that is well into the 1000s of dollars into perspective. The lost opportunity of farm profit and not to mention the daily burden of management stress you deal with has taken a toll. You sleep better at night by calling this a sunk cost, but moving forwards you feeling anxious by failing to recognise the lost opportunity cost.
Whatchya gonna do?
I hope you said "invest in an app!" as loud as you can. And congratulations for doing so. Let the fun begin because you're about to jump on the pathway to positively increase the impact of your grazing management decisions with the assistance of a farm app.
Now you're prepared, check out some of the apps below that you can find by doing a web search for the term "grazing app."
7. Which grazing management apps are out there?
Grazing apps come in many different shapes and sizes. From recording mob movements with Agriwebb, using wholistic grazing principles with MaiaGrazing, modular farm management software with Agrinet, and into the many simple feed wedge apps similar to what Pasture Coach ITC has to offer. The list continues with virtual fencing with Vence.io, another wholistic grazing app with PastureMap for ranchers, and more virtual fencing with Agersens. And of course, we have our own pasture and grazing management app Pasture.io that includes a world first in remote pasture measuring.
I'd love to hear your experience in wading through the plethora of farm apps and looking forward to conversing with you in the comments below.
- Ollie Roberts, 14 Aug 2019