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, which means they’ll often see four seasons in one day. “We’ve gone from a frost in the morning to 30 degrees all in the same day.” says Kerry. The extreme weather is a challenge on Castle Ridge and requires the team to stay on top of the weather and farm to the conditions. Another challenge is record keeping and the amount of time spent keeping all the records up to date, diaries with slips of paper inserted was the norm. “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 extra 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 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 Cloud Farmer app and all I need to do now is reiterate the importance of recording on the spot.” says Kerry.
Anyone can use Cloud Farmer
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 cell phone coverage at Castle Ridge, so there was no need for Paul to own one prior to signing up to Cloud Farmer. “Paul has been one of the best and quickest to take up the new technology.” After looking around at other options Castle Ridge went with Cloud Farmer because of its simplicity. “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 are key
Cloud Farmer is designed to be adaptable and flexible, customising Cloud Farmer to work alongside your farm is simple, 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 from the start 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 key thing with Cloud Farmer is that you can build a unique platform for your farm.”
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. Kerry believes that starting small, building and customising the app as they go has been the key to successfully implementing Cloud Farmer on Castle Ridge, “it’s not hard, but you do need a bit of time to design and setup the app how you want it and to keep adding to it.”
Farmers supporting farmers
Cloud Farmer is a small business with old fashioned values—we really care about our clients and pride ourselves on the support we give our clients, new and old. “The support you get from the Cloud Farmer team makes customising and 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—they understand what you’re asking and why.” Cloud Farmer has been built and designed by New Zealand farmers for New Zealand farmers, we live and breathe the same frustrations as our clients. Kerry explains how the support you receive 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.”