“No more clutter. Show me the margins. That’s the beauty of Simple Farms,” says producer Scott Scheimer.
Frustrated with the bottlenecks of data collection, redundancy of inputs, never-ending forms, complicated programs, lost data, excuses and heavyweight expense on his Colorado farm, Scheimer has created a standalone tool to help growers determine breakeven points by precisely tracking field inputs. The result is a bottom-line, gamified app and program: Simple Farms.
Scheimer, 48, farms sandy loam on the flatlands of eastern Colorado, 30 miles south of Burlington on I-70 in Cheyenne Wells, a quick jump from the Kansas line. Almost entirely dryland, he grows corn, grain sorghum, millet, soybeans and wheat. “Margins are so thin and we have to pay such close attention. I wanted to develop a tool to track all of that.”
The result of Scheimer’s effort is Simple Farms, an app to cover field-to-field operations centered on crop types. “It analyzes your breakeven for those crops based on market price and yield. This is a farmer’s calculator like nothing that has ever been available,” Scheimer explains.
Initial setup time with a laptop or tablet takes one-and-a-half to three hours, and once the basics are established, a smartphone can run the program. “It’s so simple, almost like a game. You go in on your phone or pad and make acreage or chemical selections as you make inputs, and you’ll see exactly what it’s costing you to take care of that field within 20-30 seconds.”
Fertilizer, herbicides, planting, irrigation and more options are time-stamped and synced with NOAA data. “No sharing of data with anyone, including us. You’re the only one that sees your data. The way it tracks day-to-day operations is awesome. Build and put in financials and it expands just like a game, and it handles depreciation, repairs and maintenance. Also, there is not integration of data, so if you plug in the wrong info, you can just go back and make changes anytime.”
Greg Andrews, 51, grows alfalfa, corn, soybeans and wheat on 6,000 acres in Burlington, and began using Simple Farms in 2019. He emphasizes the crucial need to “track every dollar” on his Kit Carson County operation. “Our margins are so tight on fertilizer and seed, and every dollar counts. I have a real need to know more about the cost of every crop so I know where I stand at all times. This app is so easy to use and that was one of the big things that attracted me, because everything else I find is so complicated.”
“Fertilizer, chemicals or whatever, I just record what I’m using and how many acres, and everything is automatically tracked.”
Nick Hevner, 31, has a foot in two worlds. He is a full-time ag lender at The Eastern Colorado Bank, and works on the Hevner family farm outside of Cheyenne Wells, beside his father, Scott, who grows corn, grain sorghum and wheat, in addition to cattle production. On a daily basis, Hevner has a front-row seat to the agriculture industry’s wafer-thin margins: “Any tool someone can use to monitor margins and be aware of where you’re at all times is vitally important to allow you to make decisions in real time. We were excited to put Simple Farms into practice on our operation.”
The tool is a fit for farms of any size, he contends. “This monitors your crop daily, and is a great fit for small guys with less buying power, or for bigger guys trying to keep track and perspective as money flows out fast. As a banker, I’d be excited to see my clients using it as well, as a tool toward profitability.”
Simple Farms costs $100 per month per farm entity, broken into semi-annual subscriptions. “The main purpose is to tell you your breakeven level,” Scheimer adds. “This is a tool that tracks everything in a simple manner to help farmers.”
For more information, see Simple Farms.