Farm Management Software Buyers Guide
Updated: Jun 20
How to pick the best farm management software for your farm
Like many industries, farmers are surrounded and inundated with technology that promises to offer a solution to help them. With so many choices it's easy for farmers to find themselves overwhelmed with choices of farm software these days. With so many choices how do you make the right one so you only move your data once? First let's define what we mean when we talk about Farm Management Software.
What is Farm Management Software?
Farm Management Software (FMS) are a category of software that is designed to help farmers to plan, track, manage and run their businesses more effectively. It can help you keep track of your crops, treatments, amendments and livestock, reporting data and generating reports and alerts that tell you when to harvest or move animals to different pastures.
Farm Management Software (FMS) is a designed to help farmers with their daily tasks. It's a comprehensive solution that covers many different aspects of the farming business, such as financial visibility & reporting, understanding ROI, managing work, keeping track of inventory, crop planning and monitoring, customer relationship management (CRM), and more.
FMS differs from farm accounting software because they are more comprehensive and typically provide a complete and holistic view of your business and can be thought of as an Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for agricultural businesses.
Farm software is business software
Your farm is a business and it deserves software that can help you make real-time informed business decisions about where to invest and where to scale back. Good farm management software should do more than just keep notes and records, it should be a business tool to help you run a more efficient and profitable agribusiness.
What are key farm management software features
There are many different types of farming software, some that are focussed on specific types of producers or growers (cattle, commodities, etc) and others they provide a broad generalized set of features that can be applicable to many different types of farmers.
Key farm management software features:
Record keeping & traceability features
Crop planning, growth and yield tracking
Farm mapping / Field mapping and boundaries (also key for organic certifications)
Farm scheduling, task and work management
Geotag notes and activities
Yield projections, estimates and tracking
Field and crop production rates (harvests and yields)
Field & crop activities (this is critical for a successful agricultural business and any organic certification) - Weeding, fertilizing, pesticides, etc.
Financial health and reporting including ROI/break-even analysis
Expenses and income (general profit and loss) for fields, crops, and other ventures
Soil and crop treatment tracking
Crop loss and loss reason (disease, pests, etc)
Soil health monitoring (soil sample / nutrient tracking)
Inventory tracking and warehouse management
Climate and environmental tracking
Historic weather reporting
Equipment (tractors, etc) service records, operating costs, etc.
Contact and vendor records
Order and sales management
eCommerce and online sales
Reporting and analytics
Store files and photos
Animal breeding and genealogy
Animal health & treatment records - vaccines, deworming, neutering, etc
Animal growth and production tracking
Livestock grazing planning and management
Ability to integrate with other systems
Because farm management software often cover a broad category of needs and features it can sometimes feel overwhelming to understand each of these areas. However, a good farm management system will integrate all of these features in an easy to use and understand way so that you can get the most out of them to help your business.
Top questions to ask when picking farm management software
1. What are your key goals for your business?
When selecting any new tool it's important to start by thinking about what you are trying to accomplish and how that tool can help you, farm management software is no different. Start by thinking listing the key challenges you're trying to solve or areas of your business you're trying to improve. Review the features that are available, watch demos, start a trial and evaluate how those features can help you accomplish your goals.
2. Are you managing a diverse operation?
Many farm management software systems on the market are focussed on single species or single enterprise operations. Are you growing crops and raising livestock? Do you have multi-species of animals or crops you're caring for?
If you are growing or raising more than one product on your farm be sure that the system can support your needs. Additionally, if you're considering diversifying your operation, be sure the farm software can scale with you.
3. Are you raising livestock?
If you're raising and managing livestock be sure that the system supports the types of animals you are raising and that it can provide you with the insight you need to make breeding, culling and other critical management decisions. Are you raising multi-species of animals on a diverse farm or doing multi-species grazing? Be sure the farm software can handle your business needs without adding extra overhead and complexity.
4. Is the farm software easy to use?
There are many ways to evaluate this. Here are a few questions to consider:
Is the system easy and intuitive for you and your team?
Is the company easy to get a hold of an responsive to questions?
Does the software get good reviews and appear to be modern and well built?
Can you get your data out easily?
Is the software being active maintained, improved and updated?
Can you access your data from anywhere?
Do they offer a free trial?
Is it set up in a way that is customer focused?
Most importantly, can you see yourself spending time working with the software and it helping you with your goals?
5. Does this company really understand your needs as a farmer?
Many companies in this industry do not come from a farming background. So, how do they know what farmers need? Do they listen to their customers and get regular feedback from them? Do you feel confident they understand your needs and business?
6. Do you have specific reporting or compliance needs?
You may have specific data that you rely on to run your business. Does the farm management system support that and make it easy to access? Do you have specific reports you need for accounting, taxes, compliance, organic certifications, carbon credits, etc? Think about what data you need to use to accomplish your goals and run your business and make sure the system can help you capture and report on that data.
7. What key features are critical vs nice to have?
With so many different features of farm management software it can feel a bit overwhelming to decide what you need, what your don't and what's nice to have. Remember that not every tool solves every problem and software is no different. Depending on the complexity or depths of your needs certain software products maybe provide better feature sets.
Additionally, do you want a single farm management software platform for your farm or do you already have other apps you work with that are working for you. For example, if you have an accounting app, e-commerce or scheduling app that you love and is working for you stick with it and look for how it can integrate with and improve the value of your other farm data.
8. Can you easily transfer or upload your existing data?
You likely have existing records for your farm. These maybe in spreadsheets or in notebooks.
Do you want to input or upload your existing farm data?
Does the farm management software provide tools to make this easy?
Do they offer free support and resource to help get your existing data into their system?
9. What is your budget?
Determine a reasonable price that your are willing to pay. In my opinion one of the best ways to think about what this for your business is to look at the benefits and improvements that the software and bring to your business and translate that into a cost or value for you.
For example, how much time will the software save you each month and how much is your time worth? How can the software help increase your farm and team's efficiency and production and what's the at worth?
Note: Pay attention to hidden fees and costs that farm software developers may have and consider how these may impact your cost. Some of these costs may be things like - extra cost per user, animals, acreage, etc and hidden fees for support or features.
10. Do you need to integrate your farm data with other software systems?
You may have other apps or software you are using on your farm. Do you want to connect the data from these to your farm data? Do you want to build workflows or automated processes when your data changes?
If this is important to you you should look to see if the the farm management software offers the ability to integrate with other systems and/or provides programatic access to your data via and API and offer resources and support to help you connect everything.
How to choose software for your farm
There are a wide variety of different farm management software systems on the market today. In our experience the right software really depends on the type of operation you are running, how much automation you may or may not have in place, you’re level of experience with farm planning, management, or record keeping software and what’s important to your business.
Some farm management systems focus on niche needs and others have solutions that are designed for a specific scale of operations. For example, features like automated tracking and reporting integrated into IOT devices or tractors. Other systems offer a broader set of features that can help with your whole agriculture business. For example, farm accounting capabilities, livestock tracking & genealogy, grazing management, tractor and equipment record keeping, CSA management, etc.
At the end of the day I would recommend taking a few different software solutions for a test drive. Look for an online solution that offers you a free no hassle trial so you can really try it out. See what makes the most sense for your operation and is easy to get started with and use.
Farm software should support your business needs
Remember that a good farm management system should help your business accomplish it's goals where that's be more efficient, productive and profitable and it should be able to provide you insight into what is working and not working for you.
What is Farmbrite's farm management software?
We're an all-in-one farm software platform We’ve designed it to be different from other farm management systems out there as it provides a set of solutions to help you get organized:
Crop tracking and planning
Manage farm scheduling, activities and tasks
Manage all your livestock needs (record keeping, expenses & production reporting, grazing management, genealogy, breeding, etc)
Flexible and customizable to meet the needs or all kinds of operations and producers
Accounting and Schedule F reporting
Keep detailed records for all your inventory, equipment and customers
And more farm management features...
Our goal is to help get farmers better organized, keep better records, manage their resources, track production and identify trends to gain valuable insights and increase efficiency and profits. Farmbrite was rated as the "Best farm management software overall" by crm.org, but don't just take their word for it, give Farmbrite a try.
If you have questions about finding the right software for your farm, contact us, we'd be happy to help - even if we're not the right fit for you.