A view from Ireland – four Gatekeeper features that can help you

Just like the UK, Ireland has experienced a very tricky and tough autumn period. Incessant rainfall has left the current situation of winter cereal planting back by anything from 10% to 50% depending on location, an estimated 20-30% of the potato harvest remaining in the ground, and near nightmare conditions for vegetable harvesting.With the eventuality that drier conditions will return as always, the spring workload will be enormous and this year, more than any, it will be most important to be organised when this happens.

Gatekeeper users now have a great opportunity to make their investment work for them by using several of the features to prepare for the year ahead.

Firstly, if not already complete, Gatekeeper users can complete all field records and stock purchases, and then using the ‘Stock’ module check in stock quantities vs. the stores in the yard using the ‘Stock Taking Sheet’; check use rates are legal; and check all invoices are correct and no overcharges have occurred.

Then they are in a position to reconcile stock and close off the stock periods in ‘Stock Management’ and be ready for the year ahead.

Another really useful report they should consult is the ‘Farm Fertiliser List’ report in ‘Analysis’ to cross check their compliance against the farm Nutrient Management Plan.

Finally, a few hours spent with the farm manager and advisor going through various reports in the ‘Analysis’ module of Gatekeeper has to be the most cost-effective way of analysing the entire business. All data can be found together in one place at the click of a button, allowing you to follow trends in yields, margins and farm spend over a period of years. Many forget that recording for traceability and cross compliance is important but analysis of the data is key to identifying problems and making future changes to boost profitability, especially during challenging times. Gatekeeper makes this process really simple.

The ‘Analysis’ module also offers Gatekeeper users the opportunity to produce smart computerised reports to share their farming and contract business partners at year end, boosting their relationship and leading to better long-term partnerships.

Looking towards the 2020 spring season, Gatekeeper users now need to consult their ‘Cropping Planner’ and make adjustments to crops, which were destined for winter cereals and will now be spring sown. The ‘Cropping Summary’ section is extremely useful this year in predicting areas and adjusting for compliance with the three-crop rule, rotational requirements, and to work out fertiliser and seed quantities to order, as we are bound to have shortages and orders will need to be in early.

Fertiliser requirements will be based on the cropping and soil sampling data which are both to be found in the ‘Fields’ section and can easily be worked out.

The additional ‘Budgets’ module is a powerful tool to have in your armoury. Essentially this works out the year ahead based on trends in costs and outputs which you can constantly adjust, taking best and worst case scenarios into account. This allows you to predict your financial requirements for 2020 and also helps greatly when making decisions on forward selling produce.

Work plans can be prepared now and left in draft form for issuing when field work resumes, saving time when it will be needed most.

You are now ready for the busy season ahead. Best of luck for a safe, bountiful and profitable 2020.