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Farm Profit Gets Hi-Tech Boost

From the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology

October 19, 1999


For immediate release


A computer in Hamilton is providing information for farmers that could boost their net profit by at least 10 percent.

The computer tells them how much money they are making a day from each animal, each type of stock and each farming activity, so they can make decisions based on profit, rather than production.

Details of, for example, Jessie the heifer in Pahiatua can be sent to Cogent Farming Business Systems Ltd, where they are analysed and sent back to the farmer. The sophisticated software helps Jessie's owner decide whether the heifer stays on the farm or is culled from the herd.

The same software also helps drought-stricken farmers in Marlborough assess whether their animals are worth keeping until conditions improve, and what levels of feed supplement would be profitable.

The program is called Camras – Cogent AgriBusiness Management Recording System – and has been developed by Hamilton farm business specialist Peter Floyd, aided by an investment from Technology New Zealand. Technology New Zealand helps businesses develop new products, processes and services. Computer company Cardinal Enterprises has also been involved more recently as the system has been converted into Jade software.

Mr Floyd says that Camras aims to boost farmers' profitability by giving them the analyses to help them to "work smarter" – to make sound decisions based on solid information rather than guesswork.

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He says that as long as farmers follow the process, they can expect to increase their net annual profit by at least 10 percent.

It works like this. Farmers who are part of the Cogent network record information such as daily rainfall, soil temperatures, stock numbers, the weight and condition of their animals – even the growth in the pasture Jessie feeds on – which they supply to their local franchised "facilitators", who are steadily being established throughout New Zealand. These people then dispatch the details over the internet to Cogent Farming Business Systems.

"All the data are fed into the special computer program, which takes into account all aspects of farming – for example financial and market forecasts, budgeting, quality certification, climate and analysis trends."

The computer then churns out the data "so the people on the farm can make informed decisions in a way that they haven't been able to before".

Mr Floyd says he has been in farming and agriculture for about 40 years as a researcher, owner and management consultant.

"Eventually I got sick of the production culture – you know, 'more, more, more' – but it wasn't being produced at a profit. Nobody was buying what we were growing."

He thought there "had to be a better way" of helping farmers stay profitable in an era of droughts, low prices and competition.

After five years of researching businesses and best practice, he adapted his conclusions to farming and found that traditional advisory services ignored many barriers to profitability.

"What we've been able to develop," he says, "is the means for farmers to address key performance issues, to evaluate their businesses and improve their profitability and performance in a way that has never been done before.

"For many this has produced a significant turnaround in their lives – more profit, more satisfaction from their business, and more family and recreational time."

He says his company has received inquiries from Australia and the United States about the system.

"We can measure the profitability of any Jessie and any number of Jessies around the world and improve the profitability of farm businesses."

Caption: Peter Floyd of Cogent Farming Business Systems Ltd, right, and Kevin and Carol Loe on the Loes' Marlborough farm. The Loes use the Cogent system to help them make many of their farming decisions.



 Peter Floyd, Cogent Farming Business Systems Ltd, 1048E, SH1, RD3, Tamahere, Hamilton. Ph: (07) 856-3484, (025) 968-796, 0800 COGENT (264368). Website: http://www.cogent.co.nz Email: cogent1@xtra.co.nz

 Tony Hadfield, Technology New Zealand (Christchurch Office) at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, (03) 377-9340. Website: www.technz.co.nz

Prepared on behalf of Technology New Zealand by I.D. Communications.

Contact: Ian Carson (04) 477-2525

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