Friday December 21st 2012

Roger's Ramblings

Seasons greeting to you and your families from me, the Fairport team and our families.

We'd like to thank all our valued clients for the continued support throughout the year and we would like to thanks all of those who have joined the Fairport client list in the past 3 months. 
Yes, another year gone! Fairport's 23rd since releasing PAM 1.0 back in 1989 and never a dull moment for all those years. 2012 may have even been the busiest.

After announcing the release of PocketPAM2 in our last newsletter things went crazy here.

THANKS all of you enthusiastic clients who came on board with PocketPAM2.

Thanks especially to Murray Hall, Brookton, W.A. for the weeks and weeks and weeks of in-office then in-field testing that he put in .... Murray and I worked from early morning until the late hours of almost every day, 7 days a week for 5-6 weeks (or was it more ... memory fails me).

Murray's efforts were invaluable in getting the software to the point where we could release it. He now has 3 Android devices, 1 iPhone and a Panasonic Toughbook running the software and tells me he typically gets 2 PAM diary screen fulls of data being added every day! Murray runs a pretty big show and has mentioned that PocketPAM2 will be worth 10's of thousands of dollars to their operation, by freeing up hours and hours of office time.

The number of you who have call up and ordered additional licenses after a week or 2 is a further indication to us that it's working well. Some people have had a few teething problems and we have been on the case, adding features and making improvements to the "user experience" as fast as we can. As those of you with Androids know, we have had a few goes at improving the Android Back Button functionality. One client has just told me today that he believes PocketPAM2 handling of the Android back button is now the best of any App he has used. It's nice to get feedback like that !

I mentioned in the last newsletter that we had secured a new client in China - a 2500 acre vineyard operation not far from Beijing. We have enjoyed getting them up and running with PAM UltraVit. We were able to manage all the installation and training over the Internet.

While on the subject of new frontiers, since the last newsletter we have a new PAM Enterprise client in Ethiopia and yet another PAM client in Sudan. We are also looking forward to several new PAM Enterprise clients in Europe coming onboard early in the new year. The hard work of our overseas agents is paying off.

As you will see in the newsletter below, we have a few things in the pipeline. In the past couple of years we have been right at the cutting edge of new technologies on a few of our projects. It comes with its frustrations and steep learning curves but it is also a nice feeling to know that you can't be more 'up to date'. More below.

Colin's Column

Over the last few months I have been to Queensland twice and South Australia. I was in Queensland, Emerald (Goonoo Station) training up the Farm Managers (Will, Chris, Sian & Jodie) for AACo on the use of PAM for their cotton operations and Toowoomba training up Matthew from Mort & Co. I also had a meeting with Prime Ag about the ongoing use of PAM in their operations. In South Australia I was talking to one of our PAM clients that wants to move up to the next level to help manage their ever growing Potato & Olive operations.

Apart from that I have been very busy with presentations of PAM Enterprise to various large Agricultural operations across Australia, Europe, USA and South America. It is amazing to see how things have picked up worldwide in the last 6 months now everyone is over (or had enough of) the GFC. There are huge investments being made into Agriculture worldwide and in many cases the investors are foreign to the country they are investing in. The flow on effect is also beneficial to the “normal” farmer because the R & D investment by these operations enable companies like us to develop & improve our products that in turn become available to everyone.

Having done so many presentations I will be doing a trip to Europe early next year to start rolling out some of these sites which will be using some of the new PAM Applications that are mentioned in this Newsletter, so it will be very exciting.
Looking forward to reporting on the rollout next Newsletter.

All the best to you and your farming operations for 2013.


Staff Matters

Many of you will have already 'met' our new IT Support man, Manuel Louis Silva Castilla. Manuel has been in Australia for a few years after immigrating from Columbia with a Bachelor's degree in IT. He topped that up with a Master's Degree at Curtin University here in Perth. Not only has he taken the strain of technical support from the other team members, he is also writing small applications and last but by no means least, he is communicating with our South American clients, prospects and agents. 

Max Bank, a graduate of computer science from Germany who has joined us, just this week. Max is on a working holiday in Australia and tells us he's a bit "over" picking fruit. He is fitting in well and enjoying working in his chosen field for the first time since graduating. We have thrown Max in 'at the deep end' after he demonstrated some talent with web based application programming! 

Mikhail Beloshapkin, our mapping (and lots of other things) developer, has once again returned home to Russia for his annual leave. In the past few weeks the temperature has plunged to as low as (minus) 47 degrees Celsius in Novosibirsk where Mik is from! The weather has been unusually cold this year for this side of February. One of Mik's favourite winter pastimes in Russia is ice fishing. That is, cutting a hole in the ice cap that forms over the river Ob and throwing a line in. There should be no shortage of ice. 

In the September newsletter we announced the arrival of Kaye, our new accounts lady. Unfortunately Kaye felt she was unable to cope with the job and left after only 4 weeks. Emily is now managing the job as well as attending university. 

PAM-PrecisionLink - for data entry and data transfer from your tractor cab

PAM-PrecisionLink is a data entry application designed to be embedded on your tractor's field computer (console). Based on the PocketPAM2 Crop Diary and Inventory modules but including some additional features.

At user definable intervals (for example, each minute, every five minutes) PAM-PrecisionLink will send back messages via 3G to your PAM computer or server. The messages will include the location of the tractor and what it has been applying since the last message (i.e. how many hectares covered, how much seed and fertilizer applied).

If you aren't set up with 3G or WiFi from your tractor, there will be an option to move the data back to your PAM computer with a USB drive.

And ... You will be able to watch on your office computer screen as the tractor(s) move around the paddocks. We have already set up a collaborative arrangement with one on-board-device supplier to embed PAM-PrecisionLink on their on board devices for a large farming and irrigation project overseas in the first quarter of 2013. 
Stay tuned, we'll be making more announcements on this in early 2013.

Please Note: This is a replacement for "DES" which we developed in 2002 for entering PAM records while running on KEE and Farmscan consoles. DES is no longer being released or supported.

PAM-FieldRex - Free App for paddock recommendations

Also in 2013 we will be releasing the PAM-FieldRex application. PAM-FieldRex will be the FieldRex module from PocketPAM2 plus the gpsScout module.

For clients with one or more PocketPAM2 licenses, this new "App" will be available free ($0.00) and is designed for your agronomists to use for paddock recommendations when on your farm.

PAM FieldRex has the same functionality as the FieldRex module in PocketPAM2 and the Paddock Recommendations section of PAM itself.

Your consultants can send their recommendations back to PAM when they have completed a scouting mission. Then they can simply tap on the "toPAM" button and send those recommendations back to PAM.

What then?

The recommendation can be seen in PAM, can be sent to a PocketPAM2 or PAM PrecisionLink operator in the field. And then ... you can convert the recommendation into an actual event or into a planned event. As you do that process you can edit it if something needs changing. Seamless integration between PAM, PocketPAM2, PAM FieldRex and PAM PrecisionLink.

PAM FieldRex can also prepare a concise version of a recommendation which can be emailed or SMS'd directly from the smartphone - Either iPhone or Android.

PAM - Help & Tips

Since our last newsletter we have added some nice features to PAM.

  • New layout for the Planned Event Worksheet in the Paddock Activities Diary. The new layout is shared across all event types and includes facilities for better tracking of machinery hours. Thanks to our clients (Macquarie) in Brazil for this enhancement! 

  • Budgets Versus Actuals reports - another enhancement request from Brazil - The new reports can be found within the Budget screen in PAM .. Look under Cropped Areas Budget Reports / Budget versus Actual Reports - There are 2 choices. Cropped Areas Financials (Budget vs Actual) and Cropped Areas Consumables (Budget vs Actual)

  • Un-Applied Recommendations - this report shows all recommendations that have been entered or transmitted into PAM via PocketPAM2 or via the Import Recommendations option under the PAM menu option: Utilities / Backup, Restore & Transfer Data / Import Recommendations... (thanks to Poole Ag Consulting for this enhancement)

  • Coming soon
    • Planned versus Actuals Machinery Hours & Areas reports
    • Individual Animals Main Screen - editing of animal traits embedded into the spreadsheet cells


    “Set Cropped Areas Status”
    Summer Crops in PAM 8
     - after a winter crop in the same paddock

    In PAM 8 we have changed the way the paddock & cropped area pick lists work. When you plant a crop in a paddock, if you plant the entire arable area, the uncropped areas list will no longer list that paddock. If you plant less than the entire arable area the un-cropped areas list will list the paddock, but only the uncropped portion is available for recording jobs against.

    So, when you have completed the harvesting of the winter crop in these paddocks and if you then want to plant a summer crop in one or more the same paddocks, you need to tell PAM that the winter crop is finished.

    Here's how...
    On the Add Wizard in the PAM Paddock Activities Diary or Paddock Season Screen, click on the “Cropped Areas” tab and you will find a new button “Set Cropped Areas Status” ... click on this button to show a special form where you can make each of the cropped areas non-current. There are instructions on the top of the screen explaining how it works.


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