Maitland Foods

Agworld Farm Management Software Client, Maitland Foods, Hart, SA

Improving data accessibility

Challenge
The Maitland family used legacy farm management software but this wasn’t used effectively within the business as it was not user friendly. At the same time, the food production and export focus of the business required accurate records be kept so that critical information can easily be shared with relevant authorities, exporters and final consumers.
Solution
When Jim Maitland met with agronomist Peter Wendt of Farmer Johns, he learnt of Agworld and, after some investigating together with his father, decided to adopt the Agworld Platform.
Result
By implementing the Agworld platform, farm management software has become accessible within Maitland Foods and everyone on the team is now able to enter data at all times. At the same time, this cloud-based data has become accessible in such a form that allows for easily exporting specific information in reports that can be sent to export businesses, food safety authorities and anyone else that might need this information.

Diversifying a business

The Maitland family has farmed in the Hart area, SA since 1866 and currently grows crops on 2,700 hectares. Jim Maitland and his father David manage the farming side of the operation, together with two full time staff, and grow a number of cereal and pulse crops as well as hay. The main crops grown are lentils, chickpeas, faba beans, hard wheat, durum and three different varieties of grass for export hay. The exact rotation is dictated by the individual markets, moisture availability and other agronomic considerations. “In farming you have to make sure that you’ remain profitable, so this is an important consideration when we’re planning our crop-rotation,” Jim Maitland says.

Next to their farming operation, the Maitland family also manages a food business ‘Pangkarra Foods’. Jim explains: “In 2011 the family started a food business which entails a third-party manufacturer. More recently, we’ve started to develop snack products as well; roasted chickpeas and faba beans and chickpea puffs in three different flavours. The durum for the wholegrain pasta is all produced on our farm, whereas the chickpeas and fava beans are sourced within Australia. My brother Sam joined the family operation a year ago and now manages this part of our business, together with three employees.”

While Maitland Foods runs a very diversified business model, it became clear to Jim in 2014 that accessibility to production data is important for all different parts of the business: “For any of our durum wheat, chickpeas or faba beans that end up as a food product, we need to be able to show exactly what was applied to the crop during the growing season. The same applies to export hay: exporters demand an accurate overview of exactly how the hay was grown and what has been applied to it when and at what exact rate.”

“We knew we had to keep track of everything we do in the field during the season, but the legacy software that we were using wasn’t user friendly and my father for example, who does the majority of the spraying, wasn’t able to use it as were many others in our team. And so, when we found out about Agworld and how easy it is to use, the choice to switch to Agworld was an easy one.”

Turning data into useful information

With entering all input data into Agworld, the step to generating an accurate financial picture, is easily made. Jim: “Because we enter all our in-field data into Agworld, we want to make sure we draw as much value as possible from the platform. In Agworld, we are able to extract our variable costs and use this to create a cashflow overview. It might only seem like something small but, with it not costing much time to create, it’s these kinds of overviews that are really handy and help us a lot from a management perspective.”

“Turning data into useful information for us can be as elaborate as creating a financial overview, or as simple as creating a farm map or showing a new employee where a specific field is. It also shows everyone on our team which crops are planned to be sown where and what the plan is for the rest of the season. Through Agworld, our team knows as much as we know in terms of our planning. And, when plans do change, the whole team can immediately see these changes and make adjustments to their duties accordingly. Agworld really helps make sure that we’re all on the same page at all times.”

Making data accessible

Having everyone within the farming team work on the same platform and enter data, was an important factor to consider for the Maitland family when they evaluated the Agworld platform. Jim: “For any system to work, everyone has to be able to use it. We now get the recommendations from our agronomist through the Agworld platform and are able to turn them into work orders. From there, whoever sprays, plants or applies fertiliser, turns this work order into an actual record. Doing it this way ensures that our data is as accurate as possible, which is what we need in order to cover ourselves from a compliance perspective.”

“Having records available only becomes useful once they are accurate and accessible, which to me means that they have to be cloud based. It just makes life easier to have a repository of information at your disposal at all times. I know that many farmers still utilise a notepad but, unless your data is safely stored in the cloud, it really is only a stolen vehicle away from not existing anymore. So, unless you can afford to have all your information disappear tonight, notepads just don’t suffice anymore.”

Jim continues: “The other part of accessibility to us is the ability to generate the exact reports we want, when we need them. Agworld allows me to select just those records that I need and export them in an easily digestible format that satisfies the criteria of hay exporters, food safety inspectors and anyone else that might need these reports. For us, Agworld is an accessible platform that ties many parts of our business together; Agworld allows everyone on our team to contribute to our dataset and also allows everyone to benefit from this same dataset. Agworld helps us on a daily basis and ensures that we maximise our profit while minimising our risk.”

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"Storing accurate records is important and being able to leverage this data via Agworld's new and emerging API’s with third parties will enhance the growers’ return on investment."
Jim Maitland Maitland Foods, Hart, SA.
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