In an attempt to combat country-wide shortages of farm help and local bank branch closures, farm management software company L'Agri has added an automatic internet banking and reconciliation feature to its latest version of Landmark.
Chief executive Sinclair Hughes says I'Agri has linked Landmark to all the country’s major banks and has plans to link to rural banks, Australian banks and rural financing companies such as Wrightsons and Robobank when they offer internet banking facilities.
The Christchurch company has over 3000 installations of its software in farms in New Zealand and Australia, a number of sites in South Africa, the UK, the US and a growing market in Uruguay with a Spanish version of its software.
“A key part of what we are trying to do is to throw away the keyboard,” Hughes says. “Anything we can do to import into or populate the database we will.
“These days farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to fit in the time to do their accounts and manage farm details on the computer.”
L'Agri, previously known as Landmark Software, released its first version of its software in 1996. Version 3, one of the first farm management systems to offer an automated banking feature, can be bought as both an upgrade and as a full kit.
Built on a Microsoft platform, the accounting and management tool allows farmers to plan and record physical production details and financial transactions. Version 3 imports bank statements from the farmer’s bank directly into the software’s cashbook and reconciles matching transactions automatically. Hughes says farmers no longer have to type in transactions from statements.
Banks' charge approximately $1 a month for the service, he says.
Other new features include a facility to arrange invoice payments and due dates through the bank’s interface with transactions imported and updated automatically in the cashbook once paid. A wage book module will be available soon.
The system has been in beta-testing for three months. One Hororata farmer, John Grigg, says the new facilities have saved him “hours of data entry, and allows more time for planning and other records”.
LandMark is sold through distributors offshore and is just entering the South American market with a Spanish version. Hughes says I'Agri chose Uruguay as an export market after noting the numbers of Uruguay PhD and masters students coming to study at Lincoln University.
L’Agri has a strong relationship with Lincoln and now counts a Uruguay-based quasi-government body that is required to disseminate information to farmers as its distributor there.
“It’s a developing market and we are the first there,” he says.