Digital Transformation in the Agricultural Sector

The incredible digital transformation that we have seen in the agricultural sector over the last few years has strengthened the industry and emboldened South African farmers to meet many of the challenges they face. An example of these transformative technological changes benefitting the agricultural industry is automation.

Farmers are automating, managing and executing tasks like irrigation, ploughing and harvesting more efficiently and more capably than ever. However, the technological advancements do no end there. Agricultural ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems are having an incredible impact on the sector, too.

ERP software is allowing South African farmers to – more easily – manage their businesses day-to-day activities, access actionable data and make informed decisions. Sophisticated machinery and advanced digital systems used by giant corporations may not be within reach of the average farmer. Luckily, ERP software is affordable, easy-to-use and offers rapid ROI as your processes and procedures become more streamlined whatever the size of your farm.

What is ERP software?

ERP software is designed to help businesses manage, organise, automate and digitise their day-to-day business activities, such as accounting, project management, compliance and supply chain operations. From finances to inventory control, ERP systems help managers run their operations via a central system with real-time data and accessibility making them more capable and effective leaders.

In the agricultural sector, ERP software is being used to streamline farm management and farming processes; automate tasks and field equipment; and facilitate more informed decision making.

How does ERP software help South African farmers?

Technological advancements in agriculture have already seen the automation of a variety of processes across the industry, such as irrigation, ploughing and harvesting. ERP software has proven itself to be a truly transformative technology for South African farmers, allowing them to automate and optimise a variety of tasks and functions in the following management areas:

Compliance: farming has strict rules and regulations when it comes to the food and produce, they deliver to retail stores. Every item from farm to shelf must meet all necessary safety standards. ERP allows for the traceability and tracking of all produce that farmers grow and sell.

Seasonal HR Management: most farms have seasonal work schedules and may hire extra labour during busier times of the year, such as harvesting or planting crops. ERP software makes managing and remunerating new or temporary staff, often found on farms, much easier and more secure.

Breeding Calendars: ERP software can help ranchers manage and organise their breeding calendars and track information like health, gestation and yield during this time. In addition, animals can be monitored to see when they are in season.

Field Mapping: field mapping requires significant planning and all the data that comes with field maintenance, ploughing, fertilising, planting and harvesting can be stored, monitored and analysed using ERP software to ensure optimal production processes.

Livestock Tracking: livestock needs to be tracked and traced throughout their life, from birth and lineage to feeding requirements and weight changes as well as veterinary and medicinal needs. ERP software helps to keep track and prove all of this vital information for ranchers and customers alike.

Cold Chain Management: meat, dairy and fruit farmers must keep their produce at very specific temperatures when in storage and out for delivery. ERP software helps ensure that all cold storage requirements are met and deliveries are kept on track.

Procurement: farmers need to know when to buy new supplies, stock or equipment. All of these vital cogs in the farming process can tracked and even automated using ERP systems.

Fleet Management: large farms often require a fleet of agricultural vehicles for activities from farm work to delivery routes. ERP systems can be used to track details like maintenance requirements, work hours, fuel consumption and more.

Soil Quality: soil quality testing is a frequent part of farm management and all the resulting data can be recorded and analysed for reporting and identifying needed changes. Scheduling for future tests and specific points of interest can be organised and automated.

Resources and Yields: monitoring and tracking the quantities and types of resources, such as water and fertiliser, that it takes to produce healthy crops and sufficient yields from different fields can be done using ERP software and its multitude of tools and functions.