The prospect of producers never looking at a spreadsheet again and still making good financial decisions is the promise made by Longreach entrepreneur James Walker as he prepares to launch a beta version of his new Agrihive wealth projector into the public domain.
The technological financial tool is the product of 18 months of work and two summits in Longreach and Brisbane, and with it the Longreach grazier says he’s finally developed a solution to the financial barriers holding back industry development that he’s proud to present to the world.
Its ‘drag and drop’ icons for all aspects of a farm business, from herd production to insurances and on to big picture dreams of succession and holidays make creating a snapshot of an enterprise a fun 20-minute exercise, which can then be used for all sorts of planning exercises.
Users will be able to see if their income is enough to pay for school fees, or to retire on, for example.
“The big problems we identified at all the summits were that people didn’t have time to analyse their business, they weren’t owning their figures, or benchmarking to see what areas they could improve.
“I wanted to make things easier so producers could make decisions quicker and not rely on other people.
"One person trialling the program said they paid $13,000 dollars for a professional consultant to review their business but they found more value in the wealth projector.”
According to James, running his family’s own enterprise through the portal’s calculations saved them in the vicinity of $40,000, and it was Agrihive’s aim to save users similar amounts by finding real savings for them.
Once herd inventories and financial information have been entered once, herd and mob values are calculated in real time in the background, which means that impacts like a live export ban on financial situations can be shown almost straight away.
“People would probably review their data every four months, or when property activities take place, such as calvings or sales,” James said.
The tool is beef-centric at present but others with sheep and wool, grains and cotton focuses are planned.
James said he had received a lot of support from MLA, ABARES, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the federal Agriculture Department.
The trial release will road test the technology to see if any graphs or aspects don’t resonate with users, but James said he was confident 85 per cent of the “heavy lifting” had been done.
“I can see people integrating this with their supply chain, or printing bank-ready documents.”
James said none of the data was shown to a third party and was not able to be seen by Agrihive website owners.
The long years of drought in Queensland’s central west have been good for something, according to one of those watching people struggle with tough decisions being made against a backdrop of asset sales and declining equity.
Data interface idea born from drought
Longreach grazier and Nuffield scholar James Walker said once his property Camden Park was completely destocked, it gave him time to focus on developing his digitised real time benchmarking tool into a user-friendly format.
One of the aspects he’s most passionate about is its Key Farm Indicator section, which shows how many people in the world can be fed or clothed with the product on that property.
“It shows people the value of what they’re doing,” James said.
“I think this is the direction we’re heading in – this type of thing will be important as an advocacy tool”
Program development has cost James and his partners $500,000 but he said it was money everyone was happy to invest, in order to see resilient farming businesses as the end result.
“They all believe in this.”