Farm Works Housekeeping

For Ag software users, this is often the time when you finally get to sit down with the yield maps and all of the data collected last season. This is when users are faced with some less-than-perfect arrangements of data. My recommendation is to do a little housekeeping while the year is still fresh in your mind. The following are the most important dustballs to clear out of the data closet.

1. Name your fields properly: In Farm Works: Highlight the name of the field (beside the green Field symbol), Right Mouse click and choose PROPERTIES. Re-type the name as you want to see it on all reports. Try to expand so that you or anyone you show a report to will know what you mean. Field names should transcend years. DO NOT call a field wheat, because it is not wheat forever and ever. It might be "Home Farm Front", or the Smith Farm.

2. Make your Crop Enterprise Boundary: In Farm Works the Crop Enterprise is the place for declaring what was grown there in a given year and how many acres. The program will automatically make a boundary to depict the crop, viewable by choosing ENTERPRISES from the VIEW menu. If we did not grow the full acres in a single crop then we edit the crop enterprise boundary to represent the correct acres. Simply highlight the Crop Enterprise, say 2010 Corn, right mouse click and select Edit Boundaries. This starts a map editing session that will allow you to change just the 2010 Corn acres, leaving the full field boundary as it was.

3. Check your Job Names: If you recorded that you made 3 different applications on three different dates, they might all say "Fieldname-Application" under the jobs tab. Post season is a good time to edit any so that you will see a list of Potash Application, 28% Application and Herbicide Application under the respective fields. Farm Works gives us several ways of sorting and filtering jobs when we wish to review them, but a reader friendly name is a huge time saver for the future. You can always view the JOB Properties to check what it was, but long term a simple and explanatory label is best. Below we see a generically named job changing to reflect the product in the name. 4. For employees or service providers using Farm Works naming jobs and layers is expecially important. You are currently the person looking after the data. What if you get a promotion, win the lottery or decide to seek employment elsewhere? Will your successor understand the data? Name everything as if your strict grade 5 teacher was going to be marking your work! Capitalize Names. Use complete descriptions. The soil testing you just performed should never be labelled "soil test". 3 years from now you will want to know that it is "2010 Soil Test Report #1234567"

5. Finally catch up on those important notations! One of the many robust and underused capabilities of Farm Works is the "NOTES" function which is accessible from several places within the program. If you are still carrying the little black book with odds and ends and records that you have jotted down on the fly- this is a good time to select the field, right click to access "Notes" from the menu and ADD anything that would be well saved along with everything else for the field. You can get fancy and save notations by self customized categories, but just typing them in under the right year would be a huge step forward.

So housekeeping is never a favourite chore and you can hire it done. AgTech offers all sorts of Hazel-like services to sort your drawers for you. But often there is a long term benefit to you handling your own touch ups: you learn to avoid the problems for the future and it serves as a methodical, field by field review for the year. Happy dusting....

Karon Cowan