Tractor Farming Agriculture

How to Build an ERP for Agricultural Business?

What is an ERP system and how it can bring value to farming and agricultural business?

A lot of processes in agriculture don’t depend on anything people can do. You’ve got weather that can get out of control, animals that get sick, various new plant diseases, forest fires, or the pandemic that disrupts all business – not just agro – all over the world. And when you can’t control the external environment, you can focus on controlling the internal processes – namely, your risks.

Agricultural processes can be roughly divided into three parts:

  1. Production
  2. Administration
  3. Support

Thankfully, over the millennia of farming, people have learned to control most of it, especially in the last couple of hundred years when technologies and machinery have simplified many operations.

Agricultural production is the use of cultivated plants or animals to produce products for sustaining or enhancing human life. The technical part of it has to do with technologies but not so much software per se.

The two other categories – admin and support – can benefit greatly from digital tools because they include a lot of routine tasks. They also produce a lot of numbers and data which can be converted into useful insights. 

In this article, we’ll talk about different uses for an ERP in the farming and Agro business. 

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WHAT IS ERP SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT?

ERP is Enterprise Resource Planning software and systems, which are used to manage manufacturing, financial information, supply chains, services, and other processes of the company or organization.

A very simplified process of ERP system development includes three steps. To develop one, the first step is to audit the company’s internal as well as external processes to identify bottlenecks, opportunities, and requirements the business has. The second step is the actual development and implementation. The final step is to educate the employees on how to use the system most efficiently.

WHAT IS THE BUSINESS VALUE OF USING AN ERP?

There are quite a few benefits in getting a white label or developing your own ERP software for your business. Here are seven main ones:

  1. Increase ROI and cost savings – your processes are optimized and bottlenecks are minimized. 
  2. Improve business insights – you get one centralized source of information about your business processes, which simplifies decision-making.
  3. Reduce margin for human error – automating your business processes limits the ways where manual data entering can skew the results significantly.
  4. Focus your employees’ time on more important tasks other than tedious data entry.
  5. Mitigate risks by automating core operations
  6. Improve supply chain management to forecast supply and demand and prepare accordingly.
  7. Optimize client and partner management (especially when you combine ERP with CRM – Client Relations Management – systems.)

LIVESTOCK MANAGEMENT

One of the ways ERP can be used for farming and agricultural businesses is to manage livestock. There are numerous apps available on the market, like CattlePro, Muuu, Ranch Manager, Agritec, and many others. 

What are their functions? The main idea is to track information about livestock – cows, sheep, goats, cats (just kidding, but hey, they are animals too) – such as: 

  1. Their number 
  2. Their breeding and mating information
  3. Their food and pastures
  4. Their shots and other medical information

When you have a small herd, keeping all this information in Excel or even simply remembering it is easy. However, when your business grows, it’s easier to have all that data in one place – other than your own head. This gives you, as a business owner, an opportunity to focus on more important issues and simplifies your employees’ onboarding process.

LAND PLOTS MANAGEMENT

Whether it’s farmland or pastures, land management can be a hassle. ERP systems simplify communication processes because you can easily see the data about certain areas – what has been done and when.

In particular, the dashboards can include the following information (depending on the needs your business): 

  • Geolocation (for machinery or in general)
  • Land plot borders data
  • Pasture and location management for livestock
  • Rent/purchase and online documentation for the land
  • The usage of fertilizers (what kind of fertilizer, when was it used, how much was used, etc.)
  • Watering data (when was the field watered, how often it should be watered based on the weather forecasts and crop types, etc.)
  • Crops data (what has been planted where default exclusion rules to make sure the neighboring crops don’t compete with each other.)

CROP MANAGEMENT

There’s a whole art of crop management: what should be planted, where to plant it, how to plant it, when to plant it, etc. If you have a single crop type, it’s straightforward. When you have two or more types of crops, the routines start to add up one on top of another.

Which processes can custom ERP automate?

  • Purchasing seeds via online tenders (we have experience in creating a digital auction platform)
  • Tracking what is growing where (combined with land plot management, this allows to optimize the process of planning the future planting with automatic rules)
  • Monitoring and managing fertilizer and pesticide types, quantities, areas, etc.
  • Streamlining the watering process and data collection
  • Managing harvest and storage processes
  • Adding sales features based on the data from storage

MACHINERY MANAGEMENT

Agriculture has become much easier when new technologies, such as tractors, combines, harvesters, and other equipment substituted manual labor or workhorses. 

While there are still no automatic harvesters (that we are aware of – correct us if we’re wrong), various sensors and data collection systems can help gain business insights into how the machinery is used. For example, the data that can be helpful includes: 

  • Hours operated with time and date information (to understand the effort/results ratio)
  • Operating personnel information (to see which of your employees are working better or more efficiently than others)
  • Machinery amortization and accounting information (to automate this process and not worry about it)
  • Distance traveled and current location
  • Planting and Harvesting forecasts and calculations

FOCUS ON YOUR CORE BUSINESS, NOT PAPERWORK

Agricultural Enterprise Resource Planning systems can greatly simplify your supply chain management – from planting to harvesting to distribution to warehousing. The main idea of implementing a good ERP system is to reduce manual labor and paperwork. Remember that meme “This is the meeting that could’ve been an email”? Well, in this case, a lot of paperwork (that your employees have spent their time resources on) can be automated.

The data collected can be processed and displayed on such a farm management software dashboard will be a great help for your business insights and decision-making processes.

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