Simplicity makes adoption easy

“Initially we thought we wanted one app that would do everything. But in hindsight having something simplistic that we can build on has been the best decision."

- Kerry Harmer, Owner, Castle Ridge Station, Ashburton Lakes

Kerry and Paul Harmer own and manage Castle Ridge, a typical high country station located in the Ashburton Lakes area and 650m above sea level. The extreme weather is a challenge on Castle Ridge and requires the team to farm to the conditions. “We’ve gone from a frost in the morning to 30 degrees all in the same day.” says Kerry. While the team can't control the weather, they have been able to control their record keeping. Using Cloud Farmer with Trev, Kerry and Paul have been able to reduce the amount of time spent keeping records up to date, moving from diaries with slips of paper inserted, to a digital system.

“The information in those diaries is extremely valuable and is often referred to, but the process of finding what you need is onerous. All it would take is a fire and we’d lose all of our history, with Cloud Farmer it’s all in the cloud and backed up, plus there’s the added benefit of the search function” says Kerry.

No more doubling up on admin.

Castle Ridge became Quality Assured and this brought the need for even more recording, Kerry recalls, “we were double recording—in the diaries and into the Farm Assurance recording books.”

All of the additional admin was landing on Kerry, which meant she was stuck in the office rather than out on the farm. A recommendation from old neighbours Ginny and Stu Neal led Kerry and Paul to look at Cloud Farmer with Trev for their day-to-day farm recording. “I no longer have to record what we’re doing for our Farm Assurance Plan—the team enters the info straight into the app and all I need to do now is reiterate the importance of recording on the spot” says Kerry.

Anyone can use it.

Moving to an app for farm recording was a massive change for Paul, but he’s taken to it like a duck to water. There’s no mobile coverage at Castle Ridge, so there was no need for Paul to own one prior to signing up to Cloud Farmer. Since getting his mobile phone, Paul has been quick to take up the new technology.

“Initially we thought we wanted one app that would do everything. But in hindsight having something simplistic that we can build on has been the best decision. It’s really versatile. Don’t worry if the initial system doesn’t have everything you need, you can just keep building and altering as you go. The ability to do this has made a huge difference and has made adoption quicker” advises Kerry.

Adaptability and simplicity is key.

The app is designed to be adaptable and flexible, allowing you to work how you like. “If Cloud Farmer had done everything we wanted from the start we wouldn’t have used half the features. Our team would have been put off and wouldn’t have used it.” explains Kerry. “One piece of advice I have for other farmers is to start small. Set small goals and build it as you go.”

The team at Castle Ridge like the simple design and having boxes to put the info in, “it was easier than I thought to get all of the team using it on a regular basis.” says Kerry. The biggest challenge is remembering to sync each night. It’s a running joke in the Harmer household that someone hasn’t done any work for the day because there’s no entries in the app, but they’ve just forgotten to sync once back at home with internet coverage.

Farmers supporting farmers.

“The support you get from the team makes building on your system a straightforward process. The people on the end of the phone aren’t anonymous, they’re farmers themselves sitting in their farm office so they understand what you’re asking and why.” Kerry explains how the support received is proactive, “when you first get started, they call and message you to see how things are going. This starts a conversation and allows a two-way dialogue, which is really valuable.”

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