Meet the Cavan man pioneering apps for farmers

Formed in 1994 in Kells, Co. Meath, Irish Farm Computers – better known to farmers as AgriNet – went on to develop software to change the way Irish farmers record data and use it to manage their businesses.

From its foundations of providing farmers with both hardware and software solutions, the company has moved with the times to develop cloud-based and app solutions.

The success of the business originates from three core principles – herd management, grassland budgeting and financial software.

AgriLand recently sat down with Barry Lynch – the man behind the company with clients in Ireland, the UK, New Zealand and seven other countries – to find out more.

The first solution the company unveiled to Irish farmers was HerdMaster – a full herd management and accounts system for both PC and mobile devices.

The company later went on to develop AgriNet Grass, which is currently being used in many countries for grass measuring and budgeting.

Touching on the formation of AgriNet Grass, Barry said: “In 2009, we realised that we needed to keep moving with new technology.

“There are three legs in the farm data stool: herd software, grassland software and financial software.

“When we started moving into the cloud, we looked at those three and felt we should bring the grass management software to the cloud environment first.

We started off in 2009 and we had AgriNet Grass ready in the spring of 2010. One of the reasons why AgriNet Grass is working so well is because it’s built around the discussion group format and has a great reputation for ease of use.

For the betterment of the industry, and to help create a national grass database for Irish farmers, AgriNet Grass agreed to merge its Irish client base and database in with Teagasc PastureBase Ireland in 2016.

Barry Lynch (left) shows Michael Harlin (right) how to use the AgriNet system

However, Barry explained that the company is currently expanding the ever-popular AgriNet Grass for non-Irish clients and an extensive re-investment in to AgriNet Grass is ongoing at this moment.

After the development and successful rolling out of AgriNet Grass, the next link in the chain was Cashminder.ie from AgriNet.

Cashminder is a simple and quick farm cash management system that allows farmers to track their money and provide data quickly to their accountant, their farm advisor and to the Teagasc eProfit monitor.

We focused on the financials next. Compliance is important, but managing the business financially is more important. Cashminder takes in data from online co-ops and banks to create cash flow reports and budgets fast.

“Because it’s web-based, farmers can pull in people from outside and the data is more useful because it’s visible to other people.”

The next step – AgriNet HerdApp

Launched earlier this year, AgriNet HerdApp provides a mobile dairy and beef herd phone solution that meets all the key requirements.

HerdApp enables cross compliance with Bord Bia, registration of calves with AgFood.ie, along with a whole host of other features.

“It’s all about getting the balance right between simplicity, mobility, data recording and the maximum amount of usable data,” Barry explained.

“HerdApp syncs data from the ICBF (Irish Cattle Breeding Federation) database. This means, from the very start, the farmer has all the historical information without having to input a single thing. All the cows, calving dates, milk recording and AI dates are there seamlessly.”

Key features of AgriNet HerdApp:
  • Farm reports – view all upcoming jobs. Click on any job to get the list of animals. View stock types, calving pattern and fertility performance;
  • Herd report – view a range of reports for animals on the farm;
  • Animal report – view detailed history for one individual animal;
  • Births – register calves with AgFood.ie straight from the shed;
  • Moves – pick animals and get movement permits while in the yard;
  • Drugs – drug compliance on the phone for recording and for Bord Bia reports;
  • Drug cabinet – record drug purchases;
  • Diary – record diary events, future jobs and allocate jobs to staff;
  • AI/breeding – monitor activity to get cows in calf efficiently;
  • Weights – track beef weight gains and dairy replacement targets.

Barry added: “We’ve done a lot of work to make AgriNet HerdApp good when it comes to the farm inspection process, for mobility, for milk recording, fertility management/analysis and generally keeping track of all the jobs on the farm and recording the key data quickly.

For dairy and suckler farmers, as they record their pregnancy diagnosis in the autumn, straight away they’ll have the fertility summary for the year and next year’s calving pattern right in front of them.

“Another feature of HerdApp is its ability to record weights and calculate average daily gains quickly. Using dairy heifer growth curves, HerdApp can identify heifers that need extra feeding to get back on target.

“For beef, there is a big focus on compliance and also on the app cost. HerdApp is only €50/year (including VAT) for herds under 50 and is only €100/year (including VAT) for herds under 100.”

Also in terms of providing value for money, Barry explained, any farmer in Ireland can use the breeding section of the app at no cost courtesy of sponsorship from Progressive Genetics.