How do you choose the software that best fits your needs? Are you looking for agronomic or financial software…or both? What is the budget for this expense? Is the application available on your smart phone?
There are many options and features available so use internet searches, social media, neighbors or peers, and other sources to research the best applications for your farm.
There are several startup companies (industry-backed and independent) that are building great software. They are bringing a fresh approach to analyzing data and new technology which has never been seen on the farm.
Retailers, chemical companies, and service providers are also developing (or acquiring) beneficial applications that align with their current product or services.
To help make a decision on software, consider the main needs you have for the farm, find a few applications to review, and look for the top three to five features that you need to help save time, be more efficient, and make better decisions. Keep in mind that customer service is a key component of good software, so make sure the company provides great customer support. If buying field equipment, make sure you read the sales contract so you'll know exactly what technology (hardware, software, and data access) is included in the purchase.
What about price? Some companies offer "Freemium" pricing – a trimmed down, free version of software meant to introduce you to their features, with the hopes of providing you with upgraded products for a monthly or annual subscription. Some are charging a flat fee or per acre pricing. How much you spend is up to your budget.
If you haven't budgeted for the expense, add a line item in your plan and on your books for "software & technology" and track it going forward. Software on the farm is here to stay so it's best to plan accordingly.
Brought to you by Farm Financial Standards Council. The opinions of Scott Sartor are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.