Multiple Operations all in Sync
As Managing Director of Musselroe Beef, a nearly 5,000 hectare operation in Northeast Tasmania, Greg Bradfield knows what successful farms need.
Musselroe Beef is a combined breeding and fattening operation, with breeding taking place at Cape Portland on 3,000 hectares of coastal sands with 600mm of rainfall annually, and finishing occurring on 1,200 hectares in Nabowla. The 2,000 fattening cattle at Nabowla enjoy lush pastures which receive 960mm of rainfall each year.
A big operation requires keeping track of multiple moving parts. Like so many Australian and Tassie farmers, “figuring out where we are in rainfall” is a high priority for Bradfield. Right up there is pinpointing just where the operation is in its development.
All of those data points need management, which provides, according to Bradfield, “room for technology all through the industry.” But, Bradfield clarified, the technology managing that data must be, “Easy to use, intuitive, and get results… without a huge setup cost and that’s dollars and time.”
Managed Data, Improved Decisions, Increased Profitability
To facilitate Musselroe Beef’s more than 300% growth in just seven years, Bradfield’s job has evolved from shuffling paperwork around his office to “making more strategic decisions.”
Bradfield attributed farm data tools like AgriWebb with helping his team “work out the growth margins for the enterprise, do stock flows, and – bingo – we can make a better decision. And, they’re not $10 or $20 decisions, they’re hundreds of thousands of dollar decisions.”
While Bradfield’s time as Musselroe Beef’s managing director is valuable, he put the “10 hours a week in front of a screen” he spends to make these big decisions in perspective as follows:
“Compared to the value of those decisions, I’m cheap. If i’m putting $2,000 of my time into a $200,000 decision, and making that decision that much better…”
As the company decides whether to focus on “fattening this year, or background, or breeding,” Bradfield has found that, with AgriWebb he’s making better and more timely decisions, with far less frustration.
Bradfield advised farmers on the fence about embracing data management technology to “have the confidence to get in there and look around, talk to other farms.” To those lacking confidence, Bradfield eased any doubts by sharing,
“There are always the early adopters, and there are always going to be the guys coming on later and those guys that are coming on later have the advantage now of talking to the early adopters.”
At the same time, Bradfield acknowledged that, “For an agricultural app to be successful, it has to be intuitive, it has to be simple to drive, it has to be robust, and it has to save you time.” AgriWebb provides Bradfield and the team at Musselroe Beef with all three of those benefits.
With more than 2,100 users across Australia – some having used AgriWebb for more than 3 years now – farmers getting on board these days certainly have the distinct advantage of using a product which has been tested, improved, and approved by the industry.
Simplifying Audits with AgriWebb
One extremely beneficial aspect of applying farm management software to Musselroe Beef’s operations is simplifying audits.
Musselroe Beef, like a lot of Tasmanian brands, partners with Great Southern at JBS & the Never Ever Program at Greenhams. Bradfield described those audit programs with his customers as “really important, and AgriWebb makes it that much easier.”
Bradfield very confidently stated, “The hardest thing to do as a farmer these days, without AgriWebb, would be completing an LPA audit.” It’s not that Musselroe beef has never done paper-based audits before. Bradfield explained, “We’ve done them on paper before, in the early days. Now, as technology is increasing, their [audit] demands are increasing, because they know we have or can capture that data.”
Thanks to “the software that we’re using,” said Bradfield, “You don’t have to know where that paper is, because you’ve got it in your computer.” When asked to estimate just how long an LPA audit would take him without AgriWebb, Bradfield let out a sigh, and responded, “The amount of paperwork you’d have to keep, how organised you’d have to be – without AgriWebb, it’d take someone else to do it for me.”
Bradfield would “hate to be a farmer now who’s doing a paper-based audit.” He predicted that, “The amount of information that we’re expected to keep is going to keep growing. So, unless we’ve got a system now that can accommodate it, we’re going to see some heads spin clear off their necks.”
Ultimately, the team at Musselroe Beef is still responsible for inputting reliable information about “treatment, timing, holding periods, expiry dates, and batch numbers.” But, Bradfield considered paperless audits far and away better than any paper-based system they’ve ever used.
Seamlessly Integrating Apps
In addition to enhancing real-time decision-making and simplifying audits, Bradfield also relies on farm management software to inform long-term business strategy. “Another real opportunity is applications being integrated with one another,” explained Bradfield. “They’re talking to each other behind the scenes… so, what’s happening on farm will then be coming straight through into our budgeting numbers and our accounting programs. That’s something that’s really exciting from a business point of view.”
Bradfield has multiple uses for technology on farm, but an integration he is really looking forward to exploring further is the one between AgriWebb and farm accounting software Figured.
Using all of these integrated applications, “Mimics what you used to do with stock flows and cash flows,” said Bradfield. “Pre-AgriWebb, pre-Figured, we used to fax through numbers, then put them in Excel.”
At best, Bradfield said, “It was fairly clunky.” Part of that was that each farm had to build its own templates. At Musselroe Beef, the system “was as strong as what I was building in spreadsheets,” said Bradfield. “But, compared with modern applications now, they’re just miles ahead with integrations, particularly, in driving the profit and loss. Being able to integrate balance sheets, profit and loss, and cash flows all together is just sensational in driving a business.”
The Modern Farmer Wields Data to Drive Operations
A modern farmer needs to run their operation as a business. Bradfield advised that “Cash flow will keep you alive, but profit and loss drives your business and grows it.”
To keep a pulse on everything happening at once at Musselroe Beef, Bradfield increasingly relies on integrated farm management software like AgriWebb.