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Fumbling through piles of paper to track and manage his grain sales was a cumbersome and time-consuming chore for Sean Arians.
“If I get a text message today telling me the market is up and I don’t know how much grain I have to sell, I then have to sift through a spreadsheet and my notes to try and get the information,” Arians says.
As he searched for options, the northern Illinois farmer continually came up short.
“While there are solutions that do a lot by way of farm management and have the ability to track grain inventory, they are really complicated. They gave me more than I needed. I want something simple,” he says. “They also came at a premium price. I can’t afford an expensive solution.”
Other platforms didn’t provide enough functionality to make it worth paying for, either. Turning to other farmers for their input, Arians quickly realized that they, too, were faced with the same dilemma.
In fall 2017, he set out to develop a simple – yet effective – way to let farmers ditch the spreadsheets and handwritten notes.
Available in two versions, GrainCoat allows you to make grain marketing decisions on-the-go while taking advantage of shifts in the market, regardless of location.
With GrainCoat Free, you get operation-level tracking and forecasted projections through the web or mobile app.
GrainCoat Advantage, which costs $199 per year, offers features like access to multiple operations, farm- or field-level tracking, end of year (present or future) inventory valuation, crop share functionality, and delivery reports/notifications.
“Most farmers don’t like a lot of data entry, so it has to be smart and easy,” Arians says. “With a single entry, I plan my crop by inputting the number of farms and fields, respective crops, and crop rotation.”
The software then calculates predictions for the future. Why is that important? Because you need to be able to take advantage of a moving market. “In order to do that, I need to know my sales and available bushels at any time. It’s also why I wanted to be able to project multiple years,” he says.
Managing Rented Land
Because the Liefer family rents a majority of the land it works, GrainCoat is a solution that allows the Red Bud, Illinois, farmers to easily track every bushel for its many landlords and farm entities.
“It has been a challenge to manage spreadsheets to keep track of bushels, sales, offers, and percentage sold across our operation,” says Kirk Liefer, who farms with dad Kevin and brothers Kent and Kris.
With GrainCoat, Liefer can track grain and the sales and offers associated with it. When grain is sold, he doesn’t have to worry about updating spreadsheets because his elevator can enter the fill directly into GrainCoat. The dashboard allows Liefer to easily see multiple years of the family’s operation with minimal data entry.
This spring, delivery notifications (which allow users to receive a text when the delivery window is approaching) were added to the list of features. Farmers also may elect to notify brokers when contracts are filled.
As he looks to the future, Arians plans to continually integrate technology solutions into GrainCoat to ease data entry, to add API partners, and to expand the product.
“We want to include options (puts and calls) as well as improve the connection between the elevator and the broker,” he says. “At some point, a dashboard and a sharing feature will allow you to share data with your broker or other partners.”
For Liefer, having a focused solution that was created from a farmer’s perspective has proven to be a great tool so far. “I’m looking forward to expanding its use in our operation in the future,” he says.
About The Company
Company: GrainCoat LLC
Founder: Sean Arians
Headquarters: Waterloo, IL
Background: Launched in 2018, GrainCoat allows you to make grain marketing decisions on-the-go while taking advantage of shifts in the market.