Figured is one of the companies being championed by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to showcase the country’s leading agritech industry.
The business offers a complete livestock, dairy and crop budgeting, production tracking and forecasting tool which it says offers accurate data in one place, in real time.
Figured is already working with a number of UK farming businesses and has now teamed up with Bank of Ireland to offer a completely new product for the Irish farming market.
The company recently checked in with two of its UK customers to see how the coronavirus pandemic was affecting them.
Will Pritchard is a leading Welsh farmer who runs Natural Wagyu alongside his dairy operation in Pembrokeshire. Overall, he feels the pandemic has brought benefits for the business and says ‘we’ve probably never been busier’.
However, he explains: “Our one challenge is that we were using staff from Eastern Europe for the milking work and we lost those guys after about a week as they couldn’t get back from the EU to work. So we’ve had to re-jig the starting rotas and get a little more hands on.
“The staffing issues are at the centre of everything we are doing. It is interesting because figuring out the rostering and staffing is eating into our management time, but we are also viewing this as an opportunity - and a good time to look to recruit full-time staff.
“Our priority is actually getting enough time to do more things, such as admin, job descriptions and interviews, as it is proving quite difficult to do so at the moment while undertaking crisis management jobs.”
Long-term, he says: “My vision is that agriculture will potentially fare quite well and it will probably be in a better position at the end of it all. I think there’s been a pressure building over the last 10 years, almost a frustration, around the fact that people couldn’t see the benefit and value in what we’re doing in agriculture.
It felt like there were a lot of people having a poke at agriculture from all these different directions. None of that is going to go away, but maybe there will be a more balanced vision of the importance of our food supply chain.”
Oscar van Der Spruit is one of Figured UK’s early users. As well as running his own business, he works alongside his son running a dairy farm in the west of Scotland. As a relatively new dairy farmer he is aware he does not have the same background as other farmers, which he views as both a challenge and a positive.
He explains: “We don’t approach farming in the standard way.
“From my background, I’m used to having automation systems in place to give me the right information to make the decisions. My son is the farmer, he is the expert on cattle and grazing and all the things that you are required to know as a farmer. I’m challenging him in this to think about what options we have to optimise our process of administration and management information, and that’s actually improving the way we are going.
“I think, whether it is in coronavirus times or just in general, as an entrepreneur, or farmer, or whatever it is you do, you need to know where you are stand - historically, farmers have always had their figures provided to them retrospectively, so they don’t really know where they are.
“We try to keep this as accurate as possible, keep the planning grid up to date and do all our cashflow forecasting. In the beginning I was doing all this in Excel. So this sort of thing [automation] is important.
“I suppose one thing about being in a crisis is that you can’t steer and you are going straight into the rocks if you don’t have the right tools or a compass. You don’t know where you are going and you will run a-ground.”
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