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Case Study: Matt Lane and Neil Durning

Managing farm staff made easy with app-based connectivity

Keeping track of the workflow of up to 25 employees at busy times of the year in his grain and sheep production business is a big challenge for west Wagga Wagga farmer Matt Lane.

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Mr Lane and his family operate a 16,500 hectare broadacre cropping program and sheep enterprise and are continually seeking ways to streamline operations.

He said a key part of this was achieving time-efficient and accurate communications with his employees and agronomist.

“This is especially important at periods such as seeding and harvest, when we have so many people on the ground undertaking a wide range of jobs that are crucial to ensuring our crops either get established and growing well - or that the grain is being delivered into the bins in a timely manner,” he said.

To improve communication systems for the Lane family, their agronomy consultant Neil Durning has introduced them to the Agworld application (app) platform.

Through a smart phone or device, the Agworld app enables farm advisers and employers to: send and receive recommendations in real-time from the paddock or office; record key production data and advice; and share information.

Mr Lane said he now received immediate agronomy advice about fertiliser, herbicide or fungicide use, application rates and other management issues from Mr Durning while the adviser was in his paddocks actively assessing the crops right through the growing season. 

“I then allocate the related tasks stemming from that advice to my farm staff in real-time using the Agworld app and they can carry these jobs out and record what they have done on the system as soon as they are finished,” he said.

“It is highly time-efficient and enables us to keep very accurate records of what’s happening in the paddock as the season unfolds.

“I can carry on with what I am doing while my agronomist is checking my crops and – at the same time – I can keep track of my staff and what they are doing as they are carrying out his recommendations.

“They all have the technology in the tractor or header to read the recommendations and action these.”

The Agworld app is even helpful for those who are not employed full-time on the farm, Mr Lane said.

“For example, when we get in aerial contractors for herbicide or fungicide applications, we can print-off the advice from Neil about spraying,” he said.

“The app allows Neil to provide us with information about the paddocks, including the GPS coordinates, and what and when to spray.”

Mr Lane said another benefit of the Agworld system was it provided a central hub of accurate data at the end of the year.

“We can analyse our agronomy decisions, such as timing and rates of nutrient and herbicide allocations and the impact on crop yields, monitor trends and plan for the next year,” he said.

“Everything is traceable and there are no miscommunications along the line.”

Mr Lane said he uses the annual data stemming from the Agworld system to complement his analyses of yield mapping data after harvest, which is helping to improve crop productivity.

“Yield mapping is important for us, especially around this time of year,” he said.

“In the months after harvest, the yield mapping data is transferred to our desktop files and we use it to develop plans for variable rate applications of fertiliser and seed placement at sowing time. These plans are then fed into the Agworld app for the next season.”

Mr Durning, who started his agronomy business Riverina Independent Agronomy in Collingullie NSW just over a year ago, initially started using the Agworld connectivity and data-collection app to help with his own business accounting.

“Agworld certainly provided efficiencies in my business and I saw its potential to significantly streamline my activities with clients,” he said.

“There are great benefits in the ability to connect and collaborate with farmers using the app in real-time while I am on their farm so they can action and record my recommendations straight away.”

The Agworld app has also been an important tool for Mr Durning when helping farmers undertake short and long-term planning and to set up efficient record keeping systems.

“Agworld is a great system for recording key data and quickly transferring information to clients,” he said.

“Even small mistakes or mis-communications can be mininimised before becoming catastrophic because records are maintained in real time and data transfer is immediate.”

Mr Durning has several clients in the southern NSW grainbelt, ranging from Albury to Condobolin, who are using the Agworld app.