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Tom Freeman: Meet our 2019 Agri-Innovation Den finalists

Sponsored by BASF and Farm419

“Dad got me into computers,” says Tom Freeman, who grew up on his family’s arable farm in Worcestershire before building a career in web and software development. “He’d always been into computing and had one of those Amstrad computers back in the 80s.”

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Tom Freeman
Tom Freeman
Tom Freeman: Meet our 2019 Agri-Innovation Den finalists

But over the years, Tom saw his father struggling with a complicated Excel document he’d created to plan his crop plantings and forecast his profitability.

 

“He’d used old accounting packages before,” he recalls. “But the problem with them is that they are designed by software developers, not farmers. They’ve gradually got more and more features and become cumbersome, and so my dad got left behind maybe five years ago.”

 

Tom spent time with his father to understand what he was trying to achieve with his calculations - and then decided to build an online tool for his 70th birthday present.

 

“He likes it, he thinks it’s great,” says Tom, who plans to roll it out to other growers.

 

Crop Farmer helps growers plan, forecast and track their crops from year-to-year, alongside quick and easy record-keeping.

 

The online dashboard allows a grower to add a crop and input data, such as cropping acreage, timing of plantings, expected costs such as fertilisers and spraying, expected yield, and expected or actual price received per tonne.

 

Accessing data

 

It then runs a calculation and produces a figure on profitability. Figures can be tweaked as costs and other data become clearer, giving the farmer a valuable tool to plan ahead for cash flow, or to make alterations to increase profitability, including what price they need to sell at.

 

Ultimately, they are able to see what yield and price they need to achieve to make a profit on their crop.

 

“It will save time trying to learn complicated packages. Bigger packages are often aimed at bigger growers, but smaller farmers often just want to know how profitable their crops will be. This is a quick and easy tool and not too onerous.”

 

“It can also be used on the go as a mobile app, so if someone is on a tractor, they can just quickly add the data.”

 

Tom hopes if used over multiple cropping seasons, the records will also help farmers with future decision making, including what to grow.

 

Crop Farmer can also be used as an accurate record keeping tool to help farmers pass their annual grain assurance inspections.


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Rolling it out to farmers

 

The dashboard has been designed with wheat, barley and oil seed rape in mind, but Tom says it could be used for other crops too, in the UK and abroad, since the tool is generic.

 

“I’d like to make it as cheap as possible for people, if not free, so that cost is not a barrier as it is with many of the existing accounting packages” he says.

 

“I’m thinking it could be free to start with and then people could pay for an upgrade, perhaps so they can add more crops.”

 

The next stage is to test it out with other growers, and then refine it, he says.

“I think it could be fantastic for smaller farmers who might not want to pay for expensive and complicated farm accounting package.”

 

He would like to partner with a farming organisation that could offer the tool to its members.

 

For more information visit cropfarmer.co.uk

Company facts

  • Online calculator for planning crop profitability
  • Provides accurate record keeping for grain assurance checks
  • Designed to be easy to use for small, family farmers
  • Currently covers wheat, barley, and oil seed rape, but could be used more widely
  • Originally built for his father, an arable farmer
  • Aiming to make is cheap, or free to use
  • Developed after working in web and software development for nearly two decades

 

Agri-Innovation Den 2019

What’s in the package?

 

  • Print and digital advertising to the value of £30,000 across Farmers Guardian, Dairy Farmer and Arable Farming
  • An innovative PR and marketing package, which includes the creation of bespoke content for your exclusive use, comprising a promotional video, article, press release and social media support
  • Two delegate packages to the Oxford Farming Conference 2020, including conference tickets, accommodation, dinner and Emerging Leaders Programme participation
  • Half-a-day of mentoring for the business in 2020
  • A 12-month membership of Farm491, including: one-to-one business support with the Farm491 team
  • Access to AgriTech knowledge network; funding advice and building a scalable funding strategy; access to hot-desking facilities and meeting rooms
  • Promotion on Farm491 site, newsletters and social media.

 

When is the judging day?

 

Finalists will be invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges at Farm491, Cirencester, on November 21, 2019.

 

Who are the Judges?

  • Sarah Bell, independent consultant at S.E. Bell Agri Food
  • Dr Claus Hackmann, venture capital investment manager at BASF
  • Luke Halsey, entrepreneur in residence at Farm491
  • Rupert Levy, chief financial officer at AgriBriefing
  • Louis Wells, solutions and services manager for agricultural solutions in the UK and Ireland at BASF

For more information, visit AgInnovationDen.com

Sponsored by BASF and Farm419
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