Scott Anderson, Andover, S.D., says there are five software tools he wouldn't be without:
1) Cash Cow Farmer. Anderson developed it himself. It's a program calculates and displays on mobile devices the cost production on a field-by-field basis and shows which fields are actually making (or losing) money. It also lets you manage your marketing contracts and track your profit or loss on each field. "Spreadsheets are cumbersome," says Anderson, who prior to coming back to the farm fulltime worked as a Wall Street investment banker. "Cash Cow Farmer simplifies the financial side of farming and ensures an efficient operation."
2) Quickbooks. "Quickbooks is easily the next most important software for maximizing your money," he says. "You can pay all your bills, and you can categorize every expense right as it happens. You're also able to compare how you did this year with past years."
3) Ag PhD Mobile Apps. Ag PhD, headquartered in Baltic, S.D., has developed a handful of free mobile apps that you can use while scouting fields. "These are great for preemptive scouting: identifying problematic weeds, nitrogen checks, etc.," Anderson says. "You can also see how many plants are actually growing and forecast your potential yield. And the apps are very easy to use. User-friendly and free is always a welcome combination."
4) Climate Corp. "Climate Corp is a very good tool," Scott says. "There are two versions -- basic and pro -- but the basic alone is considerably helpful. You can determine what your field soil moistures are and predict the weather over your fields. You put the field into their website or app by the county legal descriptions, and you're ready to handle whatever weather may come."
5) Growers Edge. Growers Edge has great weather data ,too, though it's not field-specific, Anderson says. "The main draw here is its help with commodity prices. It will aggregate local prices and email them to you. You can go to one app and have all prices worked out in front of you. You then have access to a great source of competitive buyers."
These give software tools automate a lot what would be office work for Anderson.
"They give me time to be in the field," he says.