17 April 1997

Software waves goodbye to form-filling

SOFTWARE designed to ease IACS headaches is proving its worth on a mixed farm in Worcestershire.

Robert Kings and brother Nigel farm 143ha (354 acres) at Glenmore Farm near Pershore. They bought a computer nine years ago, installing spread sheets to analyse cattle performance.

Further accounting and arable software has been added since to ease management. The most recent buy was a Sum-It Computer Systems IACS Planner program which compliments the existing field management program from the same stable.

The IACS Planner, which cost £50, allows information stored on the arable program to be automatically duplicated across to the IACS program, saving hours when completing IACS forms.

In fact, Mr Kings has only needed to make one alteration – on the arable program, the Ordnance Survey sheet number and field number appear in the same column, but the IACS form requires two.

"March/April is our busiest time of year so I tend to sit down in January and work out the bulk of the IACS form on the computer," says Mr Kings. "It also gives me the opportunity to maximise our payment while reducing the set aside acreage."

There must be up to 77ha (190 acres) of forage area declared on the farm to allow the Kings to claim extensification subsidy on the beef cattle, worth £5000 a year. But there are only 55ha (136 acres) of grass so the difference is made up with 20ha (50 acres) of cereals (this is possible since cattle are finished off on a home-grown barley and silage diet.)

"On the computer it is a lot easier to find the best combinations of fields to put into the forage area to enable us to get as near 1.4LSU/ha as possible," explains Mr Kings. An Ordnance Survey map on the computer is used to shade in different field headlands to calculate areas best suited to forage area, arable area or set aside.

"Another benefit of the IACS program is that it eliminates the chance of mistakes when filling in the IACS form. And the computer print-out is MAFF approved.

"Many people rely on a consultant to fill in their IACS form which costs money. The computer effectively provides an independent check on the figures," says Mr Kings. &#42

Robert Kings submitted his IACS claim a month earlier than usual thanks to new computer software which has simplified form-filling and eliminate the chance of mistakes.

IACS computer software – a selection

Farmade Management Systems (01825-712502)

&#8226 IACS Organiser; £80+VAT first year rental, thereafter updates £50+VAT

&#8226 Mapping; £495+VAT

Farmplan Computer Systems  (01594-545022)

&#8226 IACS Planner; £295+VAT

&#8226 Optimix Select Mapping; £600+VAT

Honeysett Computers (01981-500686)

&#8226 Farmhand (accounts, IACS data, crop costings); £95+VAT

&#8226 Farmarm (chemical & spray records, IACS data, crop & livestock costings); £95 VAT

Farmdata (01467-671457)

&#8226 IACSdata; £99+VAT

&#8226 CROPdata; £495+VAT

&#8226 MAPS 4.0; £440+VAT

Sum-It Computer Systems (01844-213003)

&#8226 IACS Planner; £120+VAT, thereafter updates £30+VAT

&#8226 Field Management; £500+VAT or £550 when IACS Planner included

&#8226 Field Mapping; from £450+VAT