Farm management simplified
Due to a new farm management software program, Steve Reinbold should have more time to spend with his wife, Melinda, and their two young children. Evenings are free from paperwork because he sends information from his smartphone throughout the day to FarmLogs software.
Accurate records are important to Reinbold, his brother, Dan, and his uncle, Mike, who operate Reinbold Organic Farms, a 2,000-acre operation of organic corn, seed corn, black beans, green beans, soybeans, and wheat near Caro, Michigan.
“Record keeping is so intense for organic production. I was basically jotting stuff down through the day and transferring it to spreadsheets I made up. It takes a lot of time,” he says. “I’ve looked into other software, but it didn’t really seem to fit for what we were doing. This seems pretty darn good.”
Creating software specific to farmers’ needs is exactly what FarmLogs founders Jesse Vollmar and Brad Koch had in mind. Both have connections to farming in Michigan’s thumb region, and both were fascinated by technology. In high school, they won national competitions in building websites, and they started a company before they graduated.
Within five years, they were running a successful business developing software and setting up networks for clients.
“We worked in other industries helping small businesses become more profitable. Technology has transformed industries, but we believed farming hadn’t been transformed yet,” Vollmar says. “Having the farm and software connections, we decided we were perfect to work through this problem.”
The partners closed their business and temporarily moved to Silicon Valley when they were accepted into a prestigious accelerator program that included four months of training and seed funding to start FarmLogs in 2012.
“We decided this is something we felt called to do – to create a worldwide software company that focuses on farming,” Vollmar says.
Reinbold installed the program last winter and found it easy to understand and navigate.
Making user-friendly software is a top priority, Vollmar says. Farmers said they tried other software, then paid for classes to learn how to use it and ended up not using it anyway.
“Good software shouldn’t need classes,” he says. “It should just make sense intuitively, because the designers put in the hard work to simplify complex problems.”
As he pulls up the calendar on his computer screen, Reinbold says, “I’m inputting pretty much every day.” He can click on any date and see what and how many acres were planted or cultivated, which tractor and operator worked what fields, and any other notes he’s added.
With a click of the mouse, Reinbold brings up a page that shows maps of all his fields.
“I went around and traced them all. When I click on them, it tells what’s in there and the number of acres,” he says. “I input all our tract numbers and farm numbers. It’s always cumbersome to go through the maps and make sure all the farm fields and numbers match with the acres. It should be a lot easier to certify this year for FSA, because it will have everything on the report instead of going through all my sheets.”