After 15 months of testing, we finally released agCOMMANDER in May 2021. Some of the mobile application modules still under development but being added to the application as they are completed. A data migration system to convert client data from the Fairport Farm Software PAM suite of programs to agCOMMANDER forms part of the overall suite of software. Prior to release, a further 50 clients joined the final stages of the testing period, helping us to bullet-proof the application. At release, agCOMMANDER was already taking care of over 865,000 acres of client farmlands.
Beginning in March 2020 and through 2020, we had 12 dedicated testing sites across 4 countries and involving farmers from a diverse range of enterprises including large mixed grain, legumes, cotton, oilseeds, and livestock operations, a viticulture operation in Canada, a large kiwifruit operation in NZ, an organic vegetable operation, a tea tree plantation, a very large macadamia nut operation operating in Australia and South Africa … all providing us with valuable feedback.
2005 Through 2019
PAM Enterprise Customisation For Various Clients
A large percentage of our PAM Enterprise clients found that the software suited their operations right “off the shelf”. However, many requested minor and sometimes major customization to make it better suit their particular operations. As well as several quite large customization jobs for Fosters Wine Estates and Landcorp Farming NZ, we undertook customization projects for organizations like Pacific Seeds (enhancements specific to pedigree seed production), Saratoga Holdings (the world’s largest macadamia nut producers, whose requirements around the processing of harvested nuts prior to final dispatch to processors were extensive) … Throughout 2009, we worked on a set of complex but extremely powerful features to manage AAco’s new cattle breeding, growing out & feedlot processes. We developed powerful features to assist head office marketing staff to gain insight into the numbers and location of specific weight ranges of cattle to fill specific contracts.
agCommander development begins
After much planning and discussion, coding began on the agCommander software suite.
MindMyAssets – Web & Mobile
MindMyAssets is a cloud-based application (mindmyasserts.com) developed to replace our aging “MAX” application. MindMyAssets is used globally in English speaking countries by an array of different business types. The software can be used to keep track of repairs and maintenance of any asset type as well as usage logging, running costs, inspection checklists, inventories of parts, and consumables & More… There’s a dashboard in the form of a calendar showing past services and other events plus future “service due” dates.
Pocket PAM 2.2
A complete rewrite of the Pocket PAM software for smartphones was undertaken almost as soon as version 2 had been released to take advantage of the improvements in the technology tools we had used. We took the opportunity to vastly improve program flow and user experience.
ZT Vineyards China
We were approached by China’s oldest and largest winegrape operation to supply a customized version of PAM AusVit, translated into Chinese. With the assistance of Yolanda Yu, an agricultural science graduate who was at the time advisor to the ZT Vineyards General Manager, the translation was successfully completed. We ran some training in their Beijing head office and the program went live by the end of 2012.
Pocket PAM 2
The redevelopment of Pocket PAM to work with the relatively new “Smartphones” started in 2010 and the “apps” for iOS and Android devices were released in mid-2011. PocketPAM works offline suiting the needs of most of our clients who’s internet coverage is not good enough run the applications online. Pocket PAM consisted of 12 modules covering cropping, livestock, mapping, crop and pasture scouting, viticulture grape yield estimates, weather records, inventory purchases, adjustments and stock-taking and a general-purpose diary.
Translating PAM into Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese
Through late 2009 and into 2010 we translated the PAM screens into Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese. This initiative was kicked off due to the uptake of PAM Enterprise by the Macquarie Bank’s Agricultural Services division and their branching out into Brazil and potentially into Russia. Their move to Russia didn’t go ahead but PAM Enterprise was taken up in both Russia and Ukraine over the ensuing years.
PAM Enterprise – SAP Integration
We implemented a PAM Enterprise – SAP integration for Warakirri Asset Management based in Melbourne. Warakirri had been using standalone PAM applications on theor properties for many years, prior to making the switch to PAM Enterprise.
Precision Data Processor (PDP)
Our precision farming data analysis and mapping software, FarmStar, was rewritten during 2007 – 2009 under the new name of PDP. PDP was available as a precision data processing module for the PAM application and also for the gpMapper application. In 2014 we created a derivative of PDP, a cut-down, standalone version of the software called PDP “Lite” which is used to convert variable rate maps (or recipes) between the various formats used for the various consoles.
Berringer Blass – Fosters Wines – Treasury Wine Estates
We had a long and fruitful relationship with the world’s biggest winegrape vineyard operation, commencing in late 2004 when at the time they were known as Beringer Blass. Eventually, after running PAM AusVit in a trial situation on several of their vineyards over a 3 year period, we were invited to quote on a PAM AusVit Enterprise system to roll out across their entire operation. They awarded us the job of customizing PAM AusVit Enterprise to suit their specific needs in 2007. That process took 9 months and included integrating with their Oracle Financials ERP system.
Landcrop NZ & PAM Enterprise
After going through a rigorous RFI & RFP process, we were awarded the job of implementing a customized solution for Landcrop NZ (now known as Pamu Farms). In conjunction with Hewlett Packard NZ, and after an 18-month project, a specially customized version of PAM Enterprise integrated with Microsoft Navision went live. At the time Landcorp had 120 farms, 500 staff and were running 1.5 million livestock units plus cropping and were renovating 10% of their pastures annually. The implementation project ran smoothly and the work was intense. As a consultancy, we learned a lot from this project, and our PAM Enterprise software also benefited greatly.
We were approached by the GWRDC (Grape & Wine Research & Development Corp) to commercialize an application that incorporated all the cleverness of extensive research into refining and improving grape forecasting. We developed a desktop application and a handheld application for in-vineyard data collection. GrapeForecaster has been taken up by vineyard operators in every corner of the world.
Pastures From Space & Pasture Watch
Pastures from space was a special research project involving a consortium of the CSIRO, Western Australian Department of Agriculture, and the WA Department of Land Administration. They developed models that used remotely sensed data (satellite images) to determine pasture growth rates and predicted growth rates seven days ahead. The current feed on offer is also modeled. he Pastures from Space Consortium approached Fairport to develop software to enable farmers to easily obtain this data from an internet site and to display the data in a farmer-friendly and useful way.
The result of this was a program called “Pasture Watch”. A comprehensive Mapping, Charting, and Pasture Planner/budgeting system that used internet technologies to download, process and display the PFS data.
Syngenta & PAM “Crop QA”
In cooperation with Syngenta and Barret Burston Malting, we developed the beginnings of what was to become known as PAM Enterprise. Specially selected Victorian Barley growers running our PAM QA+ application would push their cropping records via the internet to a PAM system hosted in our office. That central PAM application would then be accessed by Syngenta and Barret Burston Malting as well as a brewer in Japan who was the acquirer of the Barley.
After considerable traction in the viticulture sector with PAM UltraCrop, we were in an ideal situation to be approached by the Cooperative Research Centre for Viticulture to take over the development and commercialisation of their “AusVit” software comprising a chemical database and pest and disease models specific to viticulture. Over a 6 month period, we incorporated the “smarts” from their software into PAM UltraCrop and renamed it PAM AusVit.
I.A.R. – Individual Animal Records
After 2 years of initial development, we finally released the individual animal records module for PAM, catering for any farm animal type and both commercial and stud operations. Our aim was to make the module as versatile and adaptable as possible. The I.A.R. module continued to evolve over the next 4 – 5 years with many enhancements added during the PAM Enterprise implementation project for Landcorp Farm NZ. Landcorp employed two geneticists and ran stud deer, sheep, and cattle operations.
Pivot Fertilizer negotiated with us to have a specially branded version of PAM that had enhancements built into it that focused on Quality Assurance requirements for their “Great Grains QA” initiative. Pivot PAM also had special electronic import capabilities for the PivotTest soil and leaf test laboratory results. Pivot PAM’s life came to an end after Pivot went into liquidation and was eventually absorbed into the Incitec organisation.
Pocket PAM Version 1
Through the first half of 2001 we developed our first and indeed the world’s first mobile device software for in-field data collection of farm production records. In those days the devices were called PDA’s. We developed a version for the Palm platform and Windows CE, or Pocket PC platform. We also developed our own data synchronization system to exchange the data between PAM and PocketPAM. The software collected data for both Cropping and Livestock data.
PAM UltraCrop for Viticulture
We worked with one of the bigger wine companies in Australia (Hardys) to enhance PAM UltraCrop to suit the viticulture sector. Changes were made in the spray diary section, irrigation section, and elsewhere to better suit viticulture. We also developed an interface with Hardy’s payroll system, capturing staff hours in PAM and exporting them to their payroll software.
“LIS” & “LSB” for AACo
A tender process was undertaken by AAco (Australian Agricultural Company) to find a suitable software developer to build for them a comprehensive system to manage their vast cattle herd and 22 cattle stations covering more than 1% of the Australian landmass. We were awarded the job and customised PAM and PAM MultiClient over a year or more to fill their needs. We also developed “LIS” (Livestock Inventory System) to accumulate cattle numbers and number change (sales, purchases, agistments, transfers, natural increases, deaths, rations, re-classes) from the customised PAM system on the stations into a system for head office staff to use. We also developed “LSB” Livestock Budgeting that was used on the stations and a head office version that accumulated the station’s budgets into a master budget. That project ran through until the end of 2001. With internet coverage being either absent or unreliable, all data was being transferred between the stations and Brisbane head office, automatically via email.
“PAM 2000” Released
The PAM for Windows rewrite was finally released and was well received by our clients, who by that time numbered several thousand. We released two versions: PAM MultiFarm and PAM UltraCrop. UltraCrop being designed for horticulture. The main difference between the two versions being the catering for permanent plantation crops by UltraCrop.
Our PAM program won the overall best Farm Software across all categories (a prize of $5000 towards an overseas study tour) plus 1st prize in the Farm Production Recording Section of the annual Farm Software Competition run by the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales
gpMapper was developed as a total replacement for Interfarm and designed as a general-purpose mapping application to be potentially used for markets other than agriculture. It has been used in all corners of the world, mainly in the agriculture sector, but has also been used in farm real estate companies and irrigation layout design companies. gpMapper was built initially as a pilot project for the integrated mapping module of PAM. gpMapper also formed the foundation of the FarmStar rewrite. That is, precision farming features were added to gpMapper to create the new FarmStar application which was released around this time.
We began our long association with Senwes, Klerksdorp, South Africa. Senwes established themselves as leaders and pioneers of precision farming adoption South Africa, in particular in the maize growing areas. Together with Senwes we built solutions for analysing spatially variable data from grid soil sampling programs and yield monitors. We also worked on several world-first variable rate applications of fertilisers using a range of controllers. Over the years since our client numbers in South Africa have grown. Farmers are still using Farmstar to prepare for variable rate application projects.
PAM Complete Rewrite for Windows
We added several new developers to our team and began the rewrite of PAM for the Windows platform. The plan was to integrate the permanent plantation, horticulture-specifics of our Horris program, along with the various crop specific version of PAM that we had released over the past 4-5 years. They were: PAM for Cotton, PAM for Potatoes, and PAM for Sugar Cane. We also fully integrated farm mapping capabilities into the PAM rewrite.
We began developing Australia’s first and only ever comprehensive precision farming data mapping and analysis application. It was first released in the spring of 1996 at the Dowerin Field Days were visitors saw the first yield maps produced in Australia using data collected from a Microtrak yield monitor operated by Richard Barrett in conjunction with a company called Precision Farming Australia (PFA).
We co-developed variable rate application data formats with Australian precision farming controller manufacturers Farmscan and KEE. KEE was later bought out by TopCon. We also worked closely with Rinex on data exchange formats. Rinex was later bought out by Leica.
FarmStar was completely rewritten in 1999-2000. Around that time, in collaboration with Senwes, South Africa, we were involved in the first-ever variable-rate fertilizer application project undertaken with a Flexicontrol system. Over a week or more, working closely with the Flexicontrol engineers in Canada iron out teething problems. During the late 1990’s early 2000’s as well as working closely with all Australian based controller manufacturers, we signed agreements with a range of global machinery and controller manufacturers to enable us to interface with their yield monitoring and variable rate systems, including John Deere, Agco and Raven.
Through 1995 we developed our first farm mapping application, designed mainly for farm planning, with layer management and the ability to import and geolocate aerial imagery. Interfarm also interfaced with the PAM application to some extent.
Our PAM program won 1st prize in the Farm Production Recording Section of the annual Farm Software Competition run by the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales
Our PAM program won the 1994 Fujitsu Award for technical Excellence in Farm Software plus 1st prize in the Farm Production Recording Section of the annual Farm Software Competition run by the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales
A special version of PAM was created to cater to the needs of farm advisors which enabled them to switch between clients’ records. Clients could send backups of their data to their consultant. Consultants could prepare budgets and send the data back to their clients. This was before the days of the internet, so this all had to be done via mailing floppy disks!
We developed a farm record-keeping system that we named HORRIS for the publicly listed Universal Waldeck Limited (UWL) who had established a 640-acre irrigated wildflower farm in Western Australia. UWL employed over 50 people and much of the work carried out was manual tasks performed in teams. All processing, cold storage and packing for domestic and export markets was done on-site. Horris was later adapted to become a general-purpose application for the permanent crops horticulture sector and used by government horticultural researched stations in Australia and a range of clients across Australia until it was replaced in 1998 by PAM UltraCrop.
We developed an application for the head mechanic of a Ford dealership in the town of Merredin, Western Australia. MAX kept track of all the repairs and maintenance work carried out on their client’s vehicles and parts replaced, etc. It also kept records of engine numbers, chassis numbers, scheduled maintenance dates, and more. “MAX” then evolved into an application for asset management and was used by many Shire Councils, farmers, truck fleet operators, coach operators etc. “MAX” was replaced in 1997 by a Windows version of the same name. Eventually, the application was replaced in 2017 by a cloud and mobile combination application called MindMyAssets. mindmyassets.com
PAM Version 1.0 released
Released by Country Soft at the Dowerin Field Days in Western Australia. The application covered in a quite basic manner, cropping, livestock, and rainfall records.
“Stocking Rate Manager”
We developed a comprehensive livestock management system focused on livestock movements, grazing days per hectare, and average stocking rates over different timeframes for the University of Western Australia’s School of Agriculture Animal Science Department. They were conducting an experiment over 8 farms, where each farm had different densities of Tagasaste Trees. Livestock movements were done very often as the paddock sizes were quite small. This system evolved into the Livestock module of the PAM application with the permission of the scientists running the experiment.
We developed an application for Tyrell Wines of New South Wales to manage and report on their petiole and soil test results
The beginning of the journey
Development commenced on Version 1.0 of PAM (Paddock Action Manager)
A simple database application keeping a record of activities performed each day across a typical “broadacre” Australian farm.