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Excel Hacks for Crop Planning and Data Recording

Topic Type: 

It's that time of the year - time for planning out the season's crop. Like a lot of farmers, I have my trusty Excel template that I use to plan varieties, dates, seed orders and locations. We also end up logging our greenhouse seeding and planting records on it with notes for next year. Somehow we get this done even though we are by no means experts in Excel. So I am wondering, what could happen if we WERE experts? Sites and tools like Agsquared are a great start, but they are just not quite tailored to our farm and our needs. And anyways, we already have about 10 worksheets in our "farmplan" workbook that we know and love, so why mess with it by trying to condense it and upload it into a different program? So what I am looking for is more power within excel, with maybe some branching out to input real-time data from the field through a smartphone. Does anyone know, or can get in contact with, an excel genius who could be available for consulting with farmers? Are there any other folks interested in collaborating and pooling their knowledge of excel to help create the ultimate crop planning and field-data recording process? Give a shout! A nod to Bill - I am super interested in your record keeping/analysis tool, but I am focusing more on the fieldwork/field records side of it rather than the financial/labor analysis. Maybe we could talk?

Nat Wiseman's picture

I'd definately by keen in collaborating with you on this project - I've got a back ground in Excel programming, and am running a small urban farm here in Adelaide, South Australia. I use Excel spreadsheets to do the crop planning, but being a beginner farmer haven't settled on a particular way of doing it yet - it is evolving as I go! At this stage I have a master sheet with all the crop data on it, then use lookup commands on other sheets to pull out relevant info (Days to maturity etc) to use in calculations. It would be great to have a look at what you've got so far, and maybe work on what you would like to achieve and see if this is feasible.

claytonrcarter's picture

I'm curious to know what parts of the software (http://farmhack.net/tools/crop-planning-software) don't fit your farm and how I could make the software more flexible or useful. All feedback is welcome!

emcommer's picture

Hi Clayton. I think his biggest ask here is to be able to update the app using a mobile device. As I don't think your app is "in the cloud" maybe a way to sync the mobile device to the installed application...? Otherwise you'd have to integrate some type of web server with your app and the user would have to be able to host the installed app on the internet. Anyhow, I think that was the gist of his post is the ability to make updates while out in the field using a mobile app.

dorn's picture

I agree that a common "trunk" for farm practice record keeping is needed - that can have "branches" for all the various type of analysis that a farm might want to do along the way. As you mention it doesn't make sense to enter the same data in several systems throughout the year.

Other spreadsheet products might be considered too - Open office and google docs spreadsheets for example. Google docs/drive has a mobile interface that would make editing in the field fairly easy. There are now lots of mobile spreadsheets and mobile excel, - the question I suppose is integration.

I think that integration of enterprise analysis tools with the field planning and records keeping will become inevitable at some level - and in the future may be facilitated by farm hack tools like http://farmhack.net/shop/apitronics to auto populate fields or http://farmhack.net/tools/ifarm-imaging-agricultural-research-and-manage... or provide an up to date visual reference to spreadsheet data without even getting into georeferenced images and GIS etc.

Here is a list of the related tools listed so far on Farm Hack

Gocrop.com out of UVM is also coming along for nutrient management analysis. It has a mobile interface and may become open source as it evolves.

Bill's picture

Somehow I just found this thread. Are you all still out there? I've continued developing and testing my tool, and I recently had a really good conversation with Todd Jones about his project on the planning side of things. I'd love to talk to anyone who's still thinking about / working on these things.

dorn's picture

Bill, There is lots going on with dialogs with GreenStart's ( www.greenstartnh.org )feed and seed initiative and building on UVM's oilseed calculator and integrating with gocrop, DNDC and others. Here is a link to a wiki I have started but sandboxed until more developed. http://farmhack.net/tools/universal-adaptive-management-software#wiki

We have an event coming up to focus on systems integration and how that fits with the unifying software concept. I have a huge backlog to post - and hope to get up on the site within the next week!

Bill's picture

That's some pretty cool stuff. I'll be keeping an eye out for updates!