Free online tools offer farmers the opportunity to make quick and efficient calculations.
- On the Johnny’s Selected Seeds website, you’ll find interactive tools for calculating how much seed you need for a given crop, as well as spring, fall, and succession planting dates, crop harvest dates, and the costs of caterpillar tunnels. Find them at http://www.johnnyseeds.com/t-InteractiveTools.aspx?source=GrowGuide.
- Nick Andrews and Dan Sullivan of Oregon State University developed the OSU Organic Fertilizer and Cover Crop calculator to help farms estimate nitrogen mineralization from organic fertilizers and cover crops. The calculator is available at http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/calculator and an eOrganic webinar about it can be found at http://www.extension.org/pages/26919/estimating-plant-available-nitrogen-contribution-from-cover-crops-webinar.
- The Pasture Project of the Wallace Center has posted two financial calculators. The Grassfed Beef Decision Calculator is a comprehensive, interactive Excel spreadsheet that allows users to examine the costs of various beef cattle enterprises. Another spreadsheet, Comparison of Rental Rates for Landowners, lets landowners compare rents from leasing to grass-fed beef operations versus corn producers. Access the calculators at http://www.wallacecenter.org/resourcelibrary/-grassfed-beef-financial-calculators.
- The Ag-Analytics.Org team at Cornell University has developed a suite of web tools that allow producers to generate individualized instant premium estimates for different yield or revenue projections. The tool works for both traditional single-crop policies and for the new Whole Farm Revenue Protection option, which allows diversified farms to cover many crops under one plan. The tools can be found at Ag-Analytics.Org. The site offers other crop insurance resources such as fact sheets for all major New York state crops, deadlines, and farmer testimonials. Ag-Analytics.Org also features a mapping application that allows farmers to create accounts and view extensive field data including soil, weather, and satellite-derived vegetative indexes.
- The CSF Water Deficit Calculator estimates soil water content within a crop’s effective root zone to inform decision makers about current and forecasted water deficits. This information is used by farmers and irrigation system managers to determine the optimum frequency and duration of watering that is necessary to avoid plant stress. Crops respond to water deficits in predictable ways at specific, measurable levels of water stress. This tool takes advantage of these relationships to monitor and predict possible water deficit and associated plant stress. Producers can use this tool to plan water applications with a goal of minimizing plant stress while maximizing water conservation, and to assess the probability of naturally reaching certain levels of soil water content over the next month. This tool, along with many other tools that are designed to help farmers manage climate risk, can be found at ClimateSmartFarming.org.
Small Farm Quarterly Article
To help demystify ‘online marketplaces’ for the farmers and the public, we ran an article in our Small Farm Quarterly Magazine in Winter of 2013 which describes the the range of services they provide. Read the article here.
Farmer Focused Websites
- Plovgh supports farmers and foodmakers by developing supply networks, sourcing ingredients for craft food and drink companies, and giving producers direct access to customers.
Wholesaler Focused Websites
Consumer Focused Websites
- Eatwild.com provides research-based information about “eating on the wild side.” This means choosing present-day foods that approach the nutritional content of wild plants and game—our original diet.
Websites Connecting Farmers and Consumers
- LocalHarvest connects people looking for good food with the farmers who produce it, offering a national directory of farms and farmers markets and software to help CSA farmers run their business more smoothly.
- FarmStayPlanet is an online agritourism database that allows travelers to search for farm-stay opportunities across the world.
- Through Farmigo, consumers order locally produced food and pick it up at a neighborhood pickup spot.
- Local Dirt lets consumers find and buy fresh, local food directly from family farms in the Northeast, specializing in organic, grass-fed, heirloom and free-range products.
- Barn2Door allows food producers create online stores and list food for sale, and connects them to buyers who can browse across stores and buy food directly from sellers.
- Farmspread is a complete online farmers market management platform and provides tools to help manage, promote and sell farm fresh food and artisan products while connecting consumers with farm direct food outlets. The platform provides tools to help scale alternative food distribution markets. View this article by Certified Naturally Grown to learn how the site can benefit farmers and how to create a profile.
Apps and Messaging Connecting Farmers and Consumers
- FreshFoodNY app: a virtual farmers market where New York buyers can purchase local food from the state’s farmers, fishermen and artisans. Through the app, buyers can discover new purveyors, pre-order seasonally-available products and then select from convenient pickup locations, including farmers markets. For more information, eaters can visit ny.sourcewhatsgood.com.
- Farmspread Messenger allows for simple, direct, and effective communications for Farmers Market Managers, Farmers and Vendors, and CSA Farmers. Some features include: Farmers Market Managers- More effectively communicate with vendors, keep customers updated, drive better attendance with simple, direct marketing campagins. All in one fully integrated platform; Farmers and Vendors– Create customer distribution lists with ease, let customers know when and where you will be selling. Inform customers about your products and run promotional campaigns; and CSA Farmers– Run marketing campaigns and find new customers. Keep in touch with current customers. Schedule CSA pickup reminders. More information and pricing can be found here.
AgSquared: Software System for Small Farmers
The system was created by two Cornell graduates, Jeff Froikin Gordon and Giulia Stellari. “Record keeping has been an age old problem,” says Gordon. “With sustainable practices, there’s a lot more to think about. For a long time, if you had a problem, you could just spray better chemicals. Now you have to think about what you can do to make the soil stronger, or introduce beneficial insects.” Beyond basic accounting of seeds in and fruits out, the computer system integrates U.S. soil data and weather mapping, and even makes analyses and recommendations based on best practices and eventually the collective wisdom of the community. http://agsquared.com/.
FarmersWeb is an online business management software for farms and local food artisans to manage orders and customers, market their farm, manage deliveries, and streamline financials. https://www.farmersweb.com/
FairRent: Software to Evaluate Land-Rental Payments for Farmers
The Center for Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota has released FairRent, a software tool that helps farmers evaluate land-rental decisions by estimating the income remaining for cash rent after all other expenses. The program can be used to evaluate cash, share, and flexible rental arrangements. Learn more at https://fairrent.umn.edu.
Tend is a software platform that allows farmers to plan their crops, keep records, manage daily operations and track sales, all in a user-friendly platform available on any device connected to the web. Build crop plans, keep records, manage tasks, take notes, generate reports, and view analytics. Easily accessible, organized, and searchable in real-time. Learn more at https://www.tend.ag/.
Cell Phone Apps for Farmers – Use Your Phone to Help Organize Your Farm
Technology never stops developing – especially mobile technology – and thanks to that, there is a dizzying array of applications available for our mobile devices. Here are a few apps we think might benefit the tech-savvy farmer.
- SoilWeb by Dylan Beaudette gives users GPS-based, real-time access to USDA-NRCS soil survey data. This app retrieves graphical summaries of soil types associated with the user’s current geographic location. Images are linked to detailed information on the named soils. (Price: Free; Available for iPhone & Android)
- Farmer’s Partner by Bruce Gordon aims to be your “friend in the field”. The app allows users to input dozens of variables to create an overview of farm operations. (Price: $4.99; Available for Android)
- DriveSafe.ly by iSpeech will read texts and emails aloud to you so that you can keep your mind – and hands – on the wheel when on the road or in the field. Can be used with Bluetooth headsets and has customizable features to allow auto-responding via voice. (Price: Free version is available as well as a Pro version for $3.99/month; Available for iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and Windows Mobile)
- Seed to Harvest for iPhone simplifies and streamlines record-keeping. It allows you to record detailed planting information including cultivar, location, amount, date, and an unlimited number of transplanting records, as well as allowing you to track inputs, harvest records, and sales by cultivar and location.
- Pro Dairy Event by Smart Farm Apps, Ltd allows users to view and track current and historical data by herd or by individual cow. Set reminders for vet calls, milking times and more! One nice feature is that connectivity is not re-quired to enter data – you can enter right from the field even without service! (Price: $12.85; Available for Android & iPhone )
- Smart Farm Apps, Ltd also has released two more applications for farmers – Pro Grass Rotation and Pro Cattle Breeding. Each will work similarly to the Dairy Event app by allowing farmers to track data related to paddock and grazing management and cattle herd management, respectively.
- Fulcrum by Spatial Networks, Inc is a hosted mobile forms platform that enables you to build custom apps for capturing information from the field. This app allows you to create your own custom apps and surveys for livestock tracking, crop fertilizing schedules, tracking work being done, equipment tracking, and much more! Visit their website at fulcrumapp.com. (Available for Android and iOS smartphones)
- BeetClock, by Alex Smith, allows farmers to quickly record the time they invest in each crop they grow without leaving the field. BeetClock can send summaries of the labor and equipment hours invested in each job performed on each crop you grow directly to your email inbox as a spreadsheet file. (Price: $4.00, available for Android here).
- Canopeo is a rapid and accurate green canopy cover measurement tool. Use this app to quantify the percent canopy cover of live green vegetation for any agricultural crop, turf, or grassland based on downward-facing photos taken with your mobile device. Replace the traditional visual scoring or the sometimes expensive desktop programs with this powerful and portable quantitative tool. Canopeo allows you to accurately determine the percent canopy cover in real-time, so that you can precisely monitor crop progress and make informed management decisions. Available for iPhone, Android, and Matlab at www.canopeoapp.com
- Grow&Tell is an app, released March 20, 2017 by University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension, that is designed to help growers save and share information about how vegetable varieties perform in different locations. Farmers and gardeners can use the app to rate varieties in terms of taste, yield, and how easy they are to grow. Growers can also record other information about their experiences with a variety. Data will be available for any location in North America. Visit growandtell.us to learn more. (Available on the App Store and Google Play).
- GeoMeasure, a free download for both iOS and Android smartphones, allows you to assess area in a multitude of units including square feet and acres. Users have two options to retrieve the area of a determined space: manual measurement, which entails dropping markers on your device’s screen, or measurement by GPS, which simply means the device tracks your movement as you walk the perimeter of the given area. Much like Google Maps or the built-in map function on your phone, users can also choose from four map layouts: normal, satellite, hybrid or terrain. GeoMeasure also tracks and provides elevation change along a given route or in a certain area. Learn more here.
With a cell phone or tablet becoming a daily tool for more and more farmers, take some time to see what’s out there that could help you work more efficiently. For more information, please contact Jenny Brown at the Center for Sustainable Ag.
The Square App
Accessing every possible sale is a common goal for direct market farmers. How many times have you watched potential customers slip away when they find out you only accept cash? Do you want to capture more sales at market or your roadside stand? Do you want a portable credit card machine that is free, easy to use, and gets you paid faster? The Square is a free device and application for iOS and Android devices. The tiny white, plastic square plugs into the audio jack of your device and allows you to quickly and easily slide Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American express credit or credit/debit cards. The free application turns your device into a mobile cash register. Receipts are sent immediately to the customer via email, and transactions are deposited into your bank account in 1 day. You pay a flat fee of 2.75% per swipe. The app is easy to learn, very secure (no personal customer information is stored on your device), and a great way to maximize use of your smart phone or tablet computer. www.squareup.com.
Using a combination of loyalty and text messages, FarmFan drives traffic to your market stand or on-farm retail market. FarmFan sends a text message to customers an hour before the market starts, which has a powerful effect on increasing sales. FarmFan also includes a customer rewards program that acknowledges loyalty to your farm. http://www.farmfanapp.com/info.
Estimate – Disease Severity Assessment App
Estimate is a tool to assist the assessment of disease severity in plant pathology and other agricultural sciences. Research scientists, crop consultants, and other professionals would use the application. The framework provided by Estimate serves as a repository for standard area diagrams to enable users to accurately and precisely estimate plant disease severity. The application allows users to select a specific disease from a pre-populated list, specify either a logarithmic or linear categorical scale for estimating disease severity, and touch photographic images corresponding to the various percent categories for quantifying disease intensity within a pre-specified plot layout or experimental design. Several options for data entry are included within the framework of the application, ranging from specification of plots and sub-plots to assessment of multiple, single sampling units with an undefined experimental design. The data are automatically saved as a spreadsheet within the application that can be emailed to a recipient at the end of the session as a csv file. Estimate is compatible with iPad and is available for free download on itunes.apple.com.