John Parsons BA,CGA : farmer, accountant, farm columnist
Janet Parsons BSc,CFP : farmer, teacher, financial planner
Over a 36 year farming career we have focused on record keeping to develop a successful business. Also we have looked for practical, easy to use solutions that incorporate less labour and less intervention in all aspects of our farm.
We have been recognized for our efforts, becoming one of Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers in 1988 and winning the Canadian Business Award in 1989.
John and Janet winning a Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence
The development of this crop record keeping system began 5 years ago, however, the development of the app began in the spring of 2011.
As we acquired more land and more fields (currently 11) and grew as many as 7 different crops we had difficulty keeping records of our cropping activities in a meaningful manner. We are firm believers in the value of records and making decisions based on facts.
We currently farm 500 acres and grow winter and spring wheat, canola, soybeans, oats, clover seed and forage. We needed a better system and so began the search.
The system needed to:
• incorporate all the day to day activities in each field
• list the required type and rate of application of fertilizer/seed/spray
• simplistic desing for the ease of use for any/all farm operators
• user friendly so we could access the information easily
• include a crop scouting section.
James being interviewed by CTV News
Our son James, who is a dairy farmer, grows grains and forage for his own use and grains and oilseeds for sale farms with 12 fields and a total of 400 acres. We worked together in the cropping, but the businesses are separate so the need for a system to work from in the field was important.
We finally came up with a system that worked for us, but it depended on everyone filling in the record book each day. This often didn’t happen.
In 2011, I attended two sessions on smartphones... one at the Grain Farmers of Ontario meeting and one at the Northeastern Ontario Soil and Crop Trade Show and Conference. Between the two events I purchased a BlackBerry and began exploring the capabilities.
During the spring seeding season, while I got to know my BlackBerry, I wondered how I could record things on it... like seeding dates. We tried using ‘notes’ and ‘voice notes’. Neither was satisfactory. While complaining about the ‘glorified phone and email reader’ I was overpaying for, and how it was supposed to be my ‘office in my pocket’, my son who works for an international warehouse software development company, asked ‘What’s your problem?’ When I explained the problem, he said we could program an app to do whatever I needed and maybe it would be useful to other farmers as well. This was in May 2011. This was the beginning of Field Tracker Pro.