Fairport Farm Software is no longer the name we’ll be using as our business (“trading as”) name. It’s been a year or more since our official company name changed from FTI (1997) Pty Ltd to agCOMMANDER Pty Ltd to reflect the turning of a page in history.
So… from now on, when we pick up the phone here, we’ll be saying “agCOMMANDER” !
As most of you will know we’ve been working for 3 years (more actually) on developing a totally new software system called agCOMMANDER.
COLIN BOOTH RETIRES AFTER 14 YEARS SERVICE
Colin was hoping to retire at the end of 2019 but with the development of agCOMMANDER stretching out for longer than we’d hoped, he has stayed on until 2 weeks ago to help with testing the new software and to support our existing systems: PAM, PocketPAM, MindMyAssets, GrapeForecaster etc.
Colin joined Fairport in 2006 after having been our distributor for Western Australia since 1991. That’s a long stint together!
A few months back, Colin and his wife bought a 100-acre lifestyle farm near Bridgetown in the south-west of Western Australia. Once that deal had gone through it became very obvious to me that he was itching to get down there and start farming! So… I set about finding some people to fill his roles and once that had been done, he was right to go! I hope he is enjoying a less hectic life and taking it easy.
I sincerely thank him for all his efforts over all those years and wish him a long & peaceful retirement.
NEW STAFF ONBOARD
Graeme Coleman has joined as the Business Development Manager. Graeme and I go back a long way. In fact, Graeme and Colin do also. Graeme and Colin work alongside each other for CountrySoft / Dalgety Essex Technology in the early 1990’s. That organisation was the national distributor for our PAM software as well as for Agrimaster.
Graeme was educated at Narrogin Agricultural College for his last 2 years of secondary school before attending the tertiary agricultural college, Marcus Oldham College in Victoria. He went on to do some post-graduate studies focusing on horticulture. Apart from his time with CountrySoft, Graeme was involved in a number of agriculture ventures and start-ups in industry sectors including avocados and grapes and wildflowers. Graeme also ran a farm which combined a wildflower operation and sheep. He has also run his own transport company for many years and held board positions in many not-for-profit organizations and even had a go at being a politician once when he stood for the Liberal Party in a Western Australian election.
We have also appointed Peter Siva as our senior support officer and (in his spare time) a developer. Peter has been in the IT/software industry for 30 years and over those years has been involved in a vast array of interesting projects. During the job interview, we discovered that his father and I had worked together at the University of Western Australis in the School of Agriculture. His father is retired now but in his time there he was a Professor in the Soil Science Department. Peter spent many times with his dad on farms in paddocks looking at trials in Western Australia and also in the US … so he comes with a reasonable understanding of what happens out there on farms.
agCOMMANDER PROGRESS REPORT
Starting around February this year we have had a number of PAM clients testing agCOMMANDER. Over the past months, we have been refining and developing the PAM to agCOMMANDER data migration system. In all that has taken over 6 man-months of work. I have lost count how many times we’ve migrated the data for one of our test sites: the large macadamia operation based in Bundaberg which has been testing agCOMMANDER endlessly since February.
As of late March, we have had a growing number of clients who have actually started using the software in their operations. By accident rather than design, our beta testers have come from a number of different farming types: Macadamia nut growers in Queensland, NSW and South Africa, a pistachio nut grower in NSW, an organic vegetable operation in NSW, a tea tree plantation operation in NSW, a vineyard in WA, a large Kiwifruit operation in New Zealand, a large cotton and mixed cropping operation in southern NSW with centre pivot irrigation, a sesame seed operation in Ethiopia, and a large cereal, legume and sheep farming operation here in WA which began using it live in the first week of April and have entered their entire 90+ paddock cropping operation into the program using iPads and running the special tablet version of agCOMMANDER. Around 6 weeks ago the same operation began testing the livestock module for record-keeping for their 11,000 head of sheep.
In spite of this activity, the program is not yet officially released. We are taking on new users cautiously as there are still modules under development and various loose ends to be tied up. The smartphone application is still a work in progress. We will most likely release that soon with a limited number of modules: Scouting and Mapping. Other pieces still underdevelopment are the individual animal records system and the final touches to the new livestock budgeting sub-module.
The feedback from our beta testers has been very encouraging.
SOME FACTS ABOUT agCOMMANDER
The development team has a collective 155 years of software development experience. They are located in various places around the world. Our main ‘guru’ is based in Sydney. He builds our most complex parts and also any new components we need to make the software more user friendly. We have a guy based in Indonesia who has been working on all the ‘back end’ parts to streamline the subscription system and connecting things together to streamline the managing of our new client database system. Another guy is based in Germany but tends to move around a bit between Germany, Lithuania and Russia. He has been with us on and off for 10 years and was involved in the PocketPAM development work from 2010 – 16 so knows lots about our concepts.
Consultant’s Access to agCOMMANDER: If you are an agCOMMANDER user you can invite your agronomists, farm consultants, accountants etc. to access your records, to add recommendations, generate reports, assist with your budgeting etc. The process will be as follows: Consultants can register for FREE on the agCOMMANDER website. As a user, you can add them into your user’s list and grant them access to your records. Access is limited to adding recommendations, generating reports and assisting with your budgeting and creating activity templates, chemical tank mixes and season scenarios. agCOMMANDER Administrators can user permissions such as hide or show financials .. plus lots of other options.
Languages and Currencies: agCOMMANDER supports all languages and all currencies. For agCOMMANDER Enterprise, each Business Unit can choose their own currency. Each user can choose their own language. Users can override the terminology displayed on their screen at a Business Unit level. So, if you want to localise some of the labels on the screens you can do that.
Features in agCOMMANDER but not in PAM: There are many, but the most significant so far are: The GrapeForecaster software for viticulture is now to be an add-on module within agCOMMANDER. In the livestock module, there will be a comprehensive Livestock Budgeting sub-module. We have begun building a yield mapping engine. That is under development for a new technology built to count nuts being harvested using optics. Data is saved for every 4m of travel along a row and stored along with the coordinates in much the same way as yield monitoring in cereal cropping.
API interfaces: To date, we have added 3 interfaces to weather station data. We already have a list of others that we will be adding in due course. We have lists of other API interfaces that will also be developed in due course.
There’s so much to talk about, so little time.
We will obviously be letting you all know when the system is ready to launch. We can’t wait… but we must be patient.
Until next time, on behalf of all the agCOMMANDER crew, wish you well for the balance of 2020. I wil be back in touch at the end of the year.
Al the best
CEO & Founder