[Market-farming] agsquared

Beth Spaugh lists at rhomestead.com
Tue Jan 3 15:21:17 EST 2012


Yes Lisa, the data entry is time consuming so far.  I am a beta tester and
one of the founders spent over an hour on the phone with me last night (his
request) getting feedback.  They have done an amazing job putting it
together as well as they have, and they will be making major upgrades,
particularly to reduce the amount of scrolling, pointing, and clicking, and
repetitive entry needed now.  They do have a "duplicate" planting that cuts
down on data entry, and I asked last night about next year's data entry and
he said there will be a way to copy a "season's" data (I assume spring,
summer, fall??). It is not complete yet, but does have a good deal of
functionality.  We talked about how to make recording succession plantings
rather automatic. Etc.

My draw to it is that, like you, I have a very poor history of keeping track
of paper.  AgSquared can be used from a tablet or smartphone with a web
browser.  They are developing an app for Android devices that will let us do
some work offline and upload when we have a connection(spotty cell phone and
non-existent WiFi coverage here).  They are also going to implement more
drag and drop type functionality to make changes (such as the date I planned
to seed vs the date I seeded) easy.  Right now they are cumbersome, but
doable.

The resolution of the mapping tool is not high enough (using Google maps) to
layout 60" beds in, but is useful for pointing employees in the general
direction.  They are working on a way to map beds, and we discussed how I
would use it (the main purpose of his call was to get feedback on how
growers are using it), wanting to be able to move crops around as my
planning progresses, and showing successions.  I told him I could do it in a
spreadsheet for the time being as I have been, and that I don't care about
detailed field "maps" being overlaid on the photo map - I just want them
diagrammed.

The calendar is interesting.  After the last update I couldn't find the
timeline view they showed in their how-to videos. It is still there. From
the Crops main screen, the top of the big box says "View: Welcome screen".
Click and choose "timeline".  They are working on an upgrade that will let
us change the dates from the timeline.

They are working on a harvest module.

At this time I am still using my old spreadsheet to plan amounts and when I
want what for the CSA.  But I have been going over conference notes of what
others plant when, and using AgSquared instead of my spreadsheet to
implement those. I plan to use AgSquared to keep track of info about crops
(the description box), to print out good daily/weekly to do lists (and if
not using Android, then be able to make changes on a large sheet of paper
that I actually file and can use during the winter). It's feature to
calculate dates is good - enter either the harvest date or the transplant
date or the seeding date and #days and it will calculate the other dates.

The other thing I am using it for is to record dates as I experiment with
trying to have greens for a winter farmers market.  I am seeding some things
now, and will record how long it was before I transplanted them, and then
when they were ready for harvest.  Then I will have that info for next year,
rather than grabbing a piece of paper and then losing it or wondering what
those numbers are about.

It is flexible enough that we can choose some options to reduce data entry.
For instance, I started out have "salad greens, Asian mixed" as a crop and
then entering each variety under that. To reduce data entry I have put the
varieties into the description box and just entering planting info for
"greens, Asian mixed slow" and "greens, Asian mixed fast", with two
"varieties" in each - spicy and mild.  Then I list the specific varieties in
the description box so the person doing the seeding will know what to seed.


With my spreadsheet I could print out a week's seeding, but didn't have a
good way/time to move things forward that didn't get done.  I know others
are very successful with paper.  I think paper needs a central recording
place.  I can keep good paper trails with our poultry because I pack eggs in
a specific enclosed location, and pack broilers in a specific enclosed
location, with clean fairly dry hands.  Veggie washing moves around and
different ones get stored/retrieved from various areas, and it tends to be
wet and dirty and the paper quits accepting writing and I'm in a hurry to do
the next thing.

I also am not 100% sold on AgSquared yet, but I am going to give it a good
chance, and I am impressed with the amount of thought and work the
developers have put into it and I hope they can "make a go" of it. I hope
being able to enter info in the field as it happens will greatly improve my
record keeping.  It can't make it any worse.

Growing for Market came yesterday and had an ad for cog-pro.  I looked at it
and loved the interface and apparent ease of use, but it appeared to be
strictly records, not planning, and AgSquared is for planning, and the
records will be a result of updating plans and checking planned items as
completed. 

But yes, getting it set up the first year will be very time consuming.  But
setting up the spreadsheet the first year, even though I purchased one
already designed for our type farm, was also very time consuming, and I
never used all its features, because I didn't keep track of the info to
input.

At this point I have back-tracked and am entering crops and dates. Then I
will go back with more details as I sort out how much of what I need and how
much space I have.  Some very good features I will leave alone, such as
assigning bench space to plug trays (when I run out of benches I go to
pallets and when I run out of pallets I go to the "walkways" between beds).

Beth Spaugh
Rehoboth Homestead, Peru NY
http://rhomestead.com      http://www.facebook.com/rhomestead
 

"How we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used." -
Wendell Berry

"Without power over our food, any notion of democracy is empty." - Frances
Moore Lappe

 
 
-----Original Message-----
From: market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Burke Farm
Sent: Tuesday, January 03, 2012 1:10 PM
To: market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [Market-farming] agsquared

Hi folks,

I spent a lot of yesterday messing around with agsquared.  It's nice,
but it's not everything I hoped it would be.

  For those of us who are used to a spreadsheet, the data entry is
time-consuming.  And, as a market farmer, I can't imagine having to re
enter all my crops and successions every year.  The beauty of my
spreadsheet is I can copy the whole thing, change the year and the
beds, and have 80% of my work done for the next year.

It also doesn't appear to have a feature for recording yield data.
You can do predicted harvest quantities, but I at least have not found
a way to plug in & compare actual yield.  This is something I could
really use a tool for, because I'm very bad about recording all my
harvest data on little pieces of paper and 3 different notebooks, and
then never doing anything with them after that.

The calendar is neat, but not everything I had hoped for.  It has a
pretty user interface, but I'm not sold on spending 4$/ month yet.
Oh, and the farm mapping tool?  Nice idea.. but drawing the exact size
of my outbuildings and fields with a mouse and no way to just type in
the dimensions = frustration.

Lisa Burke
Farming Engineers LLC
z 5, Central IN
very happy the lime truck came today.
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