As you start the new crop season make a special effort to keep production records on crops, livestock, forages, and pastures. The combination of production and financial records opens up a new level of management control; for example, cost per ton of forage, breakeven prices and yields, and average monthly cost per cwt of milk. This information can be used to help direct profitable use of fertilizers or feed to more profitable fields or animals. The first step is to make a wish list of items you know would be useful if you just had the data or information. Next ask extension agents, neighbors, lenders, and leaders in your industry what software they use and why, and make sure to ask what’s good and bad about using the program to get basic data. Then narrow down the list to ones that look promising. Select one to test and make sure that the company honors the 30-day trial period. Make sure you enter data, test out how data is downloaded from monitors (yours and custom operators), test out the pre-program analysis features, see if you can design custom analysis, and make sure that the software has trend analysis for multiple year comparisons. Test drive the software and if it meets your needs put it to use along side your financial record keeping system.
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, re-print, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Alan L. Grant, Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.
April 13, 2010