Farming app replaces notebooks, calculators

ANNE BOSWELL
Last updated 05:00 27/06/2014
Otorohanga dairy farmer Jason Jones has developed a livestock management app.
Fairfax NZ
PRODUCTIVE: Otorohanga dairy farmer Jason Jones has developed a livestock management app.

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A barrage of questions from his knowledge-hungry sons led dairy farmer Jason Jones to develop a livestock management application that removes the need for notebooks and calculators.

Handy Farmer, a highly-customisable app for iPhone and Android, was launched earlier this year, eight years after the idea was born.

Jones, a variable order sharemilker of 470 cows on 140ha effective near Otorohanga, said his sons started asking him "all sorts of questions" as they were learning the ropes of the dairy industry.

A tongue in cheek response of "enter it into the app" became less of a joke as they discussed and then slowly began to plan an app that would simplify the often-complex, on-the-spot calculations required for managing livestock.

"Nothing existing on the market provided all the features I wanted to manage my dairy operation efficiently," Jones said.

"I know very little about computer technology so I worked collaboratively with Netactive developer Cole Diffin to build and refine the Handy Farmer concept."

Named after the farm Jones worked on at the time, Handy Farmer allows farmers to create and manage multiple livestock mobs. Farmers enter in the mob size, customise any supplementary feed requirements and assign to a paddock, automatically calculating the optimal grazing time. Livestock groups can be adjusted as numbers and feed requirements change throughout the year. Farmers can also generate and email detailed daily reports to their computer.

Jones uses his Handy Farmer app on-farm every day. He still pasture scores the farm, but the information goes straight into the app.

"We have already made gains in productivity. Handy Farmer allows me to plan and document grazing, feed allocation and livestock movements," Jones said.

"We have three mobs at the moment, and during calving you often have four or five mobs, so without the app the notebook can get a bit messy."

Jones' staff also use the app, which helps them make decisions when they are out and about.

They can email information to Jones, who can advise them whether or not to go ahead with an action.

Jones is already planning additional improvements and features to the app, and would appreciate feedback from farmers who have purchased the app already.

"Eventually I believe almost all aspects of farm, feed and livestock management can be supported with mobile applications," he said.

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"I'm always thinking about developing the app further . . . the future is in automation and technology."

- Stuff

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