Gatekeeper launches major integration update with CLAAS

Farmplan has released a Gatekeeper update that delivers improved integration with CLAAS machines that utilises wireless data transfer for enhanced functionality and efficiency. The download became live and available to all Gatekeeper users on Tuesday 6th July.

“This development reflects the importance of integration between our respective systems,” says Ben Hatton, Head of Sales at Farmplan. “CLAAS have been a longstanding partner and we are delighted to bring the benefits of this relationship to our mutual customers.”

Farmers, growers, agronomists, and advisors across the UK regularly use Gatekeeper as their trusted crop management tool. This new update will let those users who operate CLAAS machinery – and their TELEMATICS software – to wirelessly transmit data sets between CLAAS and Gatekeeper seamlessly and instantly.

Previously, farmers may have been downloading their collected field data onto USB storage or downloading data from the TELEMATICS website. This update completely removes the need for all those extra steps, freeing up time on the farm while ensuring all your data is immediately accessible, preserved, and secure.

Andrew Wolff, Product Manager at Farmplan

This functionality allows a seamless experience for farmers that use both Gatekeeper and CLAAS machinery as part of their daily workflow. At the touch of a button, all relevant data can be accessed and managed. Integration also ensures that all data sets are refined and ready for use to ensure minimal admin and more practical usage on the farm.

“In many ways, farming has become more disparate,” says Andrew. “For example, if there’s a lot of contracting taking place, a farmer might not have their usual immediate insight into what’s going on with each field. This update removes that barrier. The closer level of integration lets you know the exact situation on your farm at any time.”

The new update will also provide greater support for precision farming. Users can instantly upload their Gatekeeper boundaries straight to CLAAS TELEMATICS – vital for the UK, where boundaries can change yearly in line with stewardship schemes and other circumstances.

“Essentially, we allow your data to move along a two-way street,” says Andrew. “Every year, you can upload your crop area boundaries and the data is adjusted accordingly. This upgrade brings those two silos of data into one.”

“The direct link between CLAAS TELEMATICS and Gatekeeper will save a huge amount of time for our customers,” says Edward Miller, UK Product Manager at CLAAS. “Being able to synchronise data with a few clicks could not be easier.”

The update is now available for download, allowing farmers to utilise and leverage their data more effectively through greater integration. “It’s the best of both worlds for Gatekeeper and CLAAS TELEMATICS users,” adds Andrew. “The new update will support agile and effective work while helping to create a more integrated farming world for everyone.”

The new Gatekeeper/CLAAS integration update is available to download now. Visit Home – Farmplan to learn more.

e-learning platform passes 300 users as course catalogue grows

Farmplan’s e-learning platform, the latest addition to the software services portfolio, has seen over 300 users take advantage of the courses available so far, while there are plans to continue to add courses for each topic that will further enhance a customer’s experience with their software.

The courses have been designed to complement but not replace 1-2-1 training and offer a more holistic approach to knowledge, covering everything from getting started, data entry and time saving tips, as well as best practice.

Currently, the platform has 20 courses available to customers across our product range, including a few courses available for users of the brand new Business Cloud accounting software.

Adam Joslin, Training Manager at Farmplan, said: “At Farmplan, we want our customers to realise the full potential of their investment in our software. The arrival of e-learning adds greater depth and value to our current excellent support and training services. Being able to learn and engage with the platform in the office, or on a mobile device via the app, brings a whole new level of accessibility to the knowledge of our expert trainers.

In addition, building a good foundation of knowledge via our e-courses can help our customers add even more value to 1-2-1 training sessions. The way we all want to access information and learn is changing – we already have in excess of 300 users signed up and growing in just a few months. Feedback has been excellent, with users citing ease of access and navigation, as well as great content as their favourite features.

Our e-learning platform offers a great new way to make the most of the software, all backed up by the same fantastic support team that Farmplan is known and trusted for.”

If you’d like to find out more about the current courses available and to sign up, click here.

The Data & Tech Series continues with two live webinars showcasing integration with ACGO and John Deere technology

The Data & Tech Series is proving a popular must see for those interested in making the most out of on-farm technology coupled with Farmplan software. In our latest sessions we’ve uncovered the value that users can derive from captured data in the lead up to harvest.

Working alongside our partners from AGCO and Tuckwells Group, we held two webinars and welcomed around 70 delegates.

Each session was hosted by our very own Adam Joslin and Ben Hatton who manage our sales and training operation for Farmplan, in conjunction with representatives from AGCO, Ben Bell, Technologies Product Engineer and Tuckwells Group, Adrian Fullman, Kris Romney and George Whelan alongside Kris Grzelak Farm Manager from Suffolk.

During each session the team discussed how you can get the basics right in preparation for a successful digital harvest, how yield data is captured and then used plus some handy hints and tips for getting the most out of the integration between Gatekeeper software and incab devices or data transfers.

For a limited time only we’re offering Precision Farming Bundle deals to help you get ahead with harvest preparation, visit our Data & Tech page to find out more or call our sales team on 01594 545000.

If you’d like to watch the recordings from each session, simply click on the links below.

For the John Deere/Tuckwells and Gatekeeper session click here

For the AGCO & Gatekeeper session click here

Farmplan e-learning launched

Here at Farmplan we’re always looking for new ways we can support and help develop our customer’s confidence and working knowledge of our software solutions. We are keen to enable them to do more and to be able to appreciate the benefits that come with greater insight and an ability to interrogate their data for themselves. We have always endeavoured to offer comprehensive training options for all our customers ranging from face-to-face group sessions through to quick 1-hour remote options.

Typically our team will complete around 400 training sessions a year (even during Covid they have delivered over 600 hours worth of remote training), so it is very much a valued service.

We are excited to now be able to offer e-learning as part of this service portfolio. Adam Joslin, Training Manager at Farmplan adds, “This April we’ve launched this new training option for users of our crops and business & accounts solutions. We have curated a range of courses designed to get users comfortable with the basics through to working with an agronomist, sharing data and becoming more competent with data analysis. We’re even looking at offering data security sessions alongside cattle management too.”

“Learners can access courses at a time to suit themselves and will receive a certificate for completion. Plus they are able to join any number of courses as they desire, there’s no limit. We are pleased to be able to offer these e-learning courses free of charge for existing customers on active software support subscriptions.”

The courses have been designed to complement and not replace 1-2-1 training and offer a more holistic approach to knowledge, covering everything from getting started, data entry and time saving tips as well as best practice.

If you’d like to find out more about the current courses available and to sign up, click here.

Data & Tech Series: Buying Group members benefit from ‘hook up’ with Farmplan’s Business Manager

As part of our Data & Tech Series we explore the integration Farmplan Business Manager offers you in partnership with Buying Groups including Anglia Farmers, North Herts Farmers and Fram Farmers.

“Being able to streamline processes and save time is key for busy farm offices, one area the Farmplan team are always working on is identifying ways in which by working with partners like AF, NHF and Fram, we can offer these benefits and more with simple integrations. Unlocking value for our customers, building relationships and the capability of the software to meet the ever-changing needs of the farming sector when it comes to data management”, says Sally Ashwell, Development Support Manager.

The Anglia Farmers eAccounts and Farmplan Business Manager import still remains the easiest and quickest solution for downloading Anglia Farmers invoices into accounts software currently available on the market. Users continue to benefit from this valuable feature and ongoing support for no additional charge.

With just under 350 members now using this link with eAccounts, we spoke to a few to find out if key benefits such as saving time and improved accounting accuracy are truly being achieved.

Unique to eAccounts and Farmplan is the ability to press a button in any Anglia Farmers transaction and it will open the original invoice image, without the need to store a copy on your computer.

“The link is fantastic, as it brings in all the transaction detail, with quantity, price, pack sizes and even machinery part no’s if they are on the invoice, so it saves a lot of time and means that I can maintain in depth records in my Farmplan accounts. My farmers are very impressed if they ask to see an invoice for any reason, as this could have taken up to half an hour before, looking through filing cabinets and cross referencing detail, but now it takes seconds, as a click of a button in the Farmplan transaction record brings up the original invoice image”.
Marion Barnes, Farm secretary Norfolk.

Farmplan then went on to unveil new functionality in the 2020 release of Business Manager which enables users to import all the detail from their North Herts Farmers bi-monthly invoice be imported in just a few clicks. Helping save time and room for error with minimal manual input required.

James Williams, North Herts Farmers says, “We are really excited to be working with Farmplan to provide this facility for members. The North Herts Farmers administration is an extension of our members administration so if we can minimise the amount of extra work and duplicate entry that our members are having to do then that’s a huge benefit.

“We already have members who have been using the system and are really enjoying the ability to import their data. Its quicker, easier and almost completely removes the chances for human error.

“We plan to keep working with Farmplan to develop this further and for the facility to be even more valuable to our mutual members/clients. If members would like to receive their data upload electronically then please get in touch.”

The import into Business Manager from any of these Buying Groups tools is a simple function activation and is fully supported by Farmplan’s dedicated Software Services Team.

If you want to find out more about either of these imports solutions please contact Farmplan Sales on 01594 545000 or email sales@farmplan.test.

Agriculture Practical Training Fund available for Scottish Farmplan customers

The Scottish Government have introduced a Women in Agriculture Practical Training Fund. This means that Scottish female residents can apply for support when taking part in any training courses that help with the development of their agricultural business or employment options.

The fund has been open since Monday 4th January 2021 and eligible training courses include environmental, technical, health and safety, plants and animals, business, machinery and equipment training. It will be administered by Lantra Scotland and will provide practical, land-based skills training with full funding of up to £500 per course. Support for courses above this value will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by a review panel.

Female Scottish customers of all Farmplan products can make an application to use the fund for our training sessions if an applicant can provide evidence of why the training will benefit their business.

Adam Joslin, Farmplan’s Training Services Manager, said: “This training fund provides a real opportunity for our Scottish customers to take their Farmplan software to the next level. Though the pandemic has of course meant we are unable to visit our customers in person, we have been delivering effective remote training throughout.

“Our remote training services have been very well received and can be just as effective, and often more convenient, than in-person training.”

Since the Coronavirus pandemic in March, we delivered over 500 hours of remote training sessions to our customers in 2020, an increase of over 170% from sessions held the year before.

Adam added: “We can cater for groups or one-to-one, in tailored training sessions that may be only an hour for a quick refresher, or longer periods spread over a range of days to help customers balance this with their other many commitments. Please do get in touch and see how we can help.”

For more information on the fund and how to apply, click here.

Looking to discuss training options? Contact our knowledgeable team on 01594 545000 to talk about your requirements and how we can help.

Taking 5 with…Piers Costley

Have 5 minutes?

Get to know some of the people behind Farmplan, as they share their experiences and thoughts on the agriculture industry in an informal, but informative environment.

We’ll be catching up with members of our team every couple of months, as they discuss their role, background and interests.

This month we’re in conversation with Piers Costley, Managing Director, Farmplan

Despite the challenges of 2020, Farmplan can look back at the year with some pride. In particular, we are proud of the fact that we provided continuous business services from development and sales right the way through to customer service, training and support. Although how we deliver these services looks remarkably different behind the scenes, we worked hard to limit any service interruption for our customers.

“I am delighted with how well my colleagues pulled together in response to the pandemic and utilised the technical infrastructure we’ve developed”. Piers Costley says, “almost all office staff now work from home, but our customers have never seen a difference in the level of support they’ve received; the changes were seamless.”

We also provided our customers with support in how to use Farmplan software across multiple sites (where people had to work from home), providing complimentary additional licencing to get customers through this difficult time.

So now we’re in 2021, what can we look forward to? The biggest constant is undoubtedly going to be change. Whilst we continue to face the challenges of a global pandemic, now that a deal has been done, we also face a new era post-Brexit, although it is difficult to know how this new era will develop over time. Consequently, the farming community needs to find a way to compete in a different market and adhere to new rules and legislation as a result of Brexit as well as the new agriculture bill. And finally, there is the continuing pressure of adopting a more sustainable approach to farming our land. This year will be anything but quiet!

Piers is optimistic about the UK’s ability to compete post-Brexit: “I’m encouraged by the example set by New Zealand. I was there when they dropped agriculture support overnight and despite a very challenging period, New Zealand’s agriculture sector has grown to be the most competitive and commercially driven in the world”.

But how do we find a profitable way through such unprecedented change? We believe data can provide many of the answers. Meaningful data, presented in a timely manner, can help farmers and their advisors make crucial decisions for their business – weeding out inefficiencies, investing in areas of profitable growth and supporting agronomic decisions. By developing a good approach to business intelligence, farm businesses can adapt and become more agile in these changing times and farmers can have more confidence in the decisions they’re making.

Farmplan has continued to invest in software development throughout 2020 and our customers will experience the benefits of this investment over the coming year.

“When it comes to software, customers want ease of use and simple data input. Yes, they want the insight that huge complexity delivers, but people want this at a touch of a button.” Piers goes on to observe that this dual need for intelligent data analysis and simple use, heavily relies on integration between products to eliminate the need for duplicating data entry. So, a core focus of Farmplan’s strategy is to collaborate with third parties, developing the kind of productive partnership that customers have long enjoyed with companies such as John Deere.

Another 2021 focus is to provide flexibility in our support and training services. In response to the restrictions of multiple lockdowns, Farmplan delivered virtual training solutions and webinars to support customers in getting the most out of the Farmplan software. This has accelerated a change in delivery and whilst the customer support line will always be an important cornerstone of our support services, Farmplan are diversifying the provision to become more proactive in content and flexible in delivery.

Farmplan are known to be customer-focused and this new, proactive approach to customer support should not surprise anyone, but it is a development MD Piers Costley is particularly excited by: “With our customers facing so much change, we see it as our duty to help our customers keep up with these developments, putting them in the best position to succeed.”

Tackling the new wave of cybercrime within agriculture

According to the 2020 Cyber Security Breaches Survey by the UK Government, nearly half of businesses experienced some form of digital attack in the last year. You are, statistically, more likely to fall victim to cybercrime than any other type of wrongdoing. Farms are no exception.

However, Louise Manning, Professor at the RAU and an expert in food security, is keen to emphasise that farmers should not avoid digital solutions, but instead approach them with appropriate levels of caution: “Digital solutions bring great benefits, allowing farmers to be in charge of their own data and manage their system more effectively, whether it’s real-time accounting, monitoring crop or livestock growth, or other aspects of their business. It’s all at their fingertips.”

According to Andrew Smith, Hardware Manager at Farmplan, provider of market-leading software and digital solutions for farms and rural businesses, more farmers are turning to external support services like theirs to save time and hassle while ensuring protection.

“Whether it’s protecting their personal data or effectively utilising cloud backups, many farmers understandably would prefer to focus on farming instead of digital administration,” says Andrew. “We have worked closely with many farmers – which can be done online, as our LogMeIn facility can permit us access remotely – who know that the risks are very real but wish to seek external support to ensure the right level of protection and peace of mind.”


By now, the majority of us are aware that viruses can quickly wreak havoc on our systems. Dr Clive Stainton, visiting professor at many universities, is an expert in this area: “We have often met with farmers who’ve been hit by viruses. Unfortunately, if they haven’t backed up, all the data is probably lost. All their records gone in one sweep. That can be the end of someone’s business. I’ve seen people turning up in tears.”

Viruses are harmful but can generally be protected against by investing in robust antiviral software and a secure backup system. Crucially, this must be kept up to date, including the operating system.

Targeted attacks

Unfortunately, attacks can be more sophisticated than viruses. Indeed, the government’s own research shows a rise of over 10% in crimes involving ransomware and phishing in the last three years.

Phishing is the creation of emails that appear to be reputable and from real companies, requesting sign-in information or other personal details. These can look uncannily close to the real thing, even with specially designed websites to match. Once the misled user enters their details, these are stolen.

Ransomware is even more sinister. It’s malicious software that blocks a user’s system (or captures personal data, including video and images direct from the user’s webcam) to blackmail for significant sums.

“How many people have been affected by this?” asks Dr Stainton. “In 2018, it cost people in the UK just under £10 billion and that figure has likely doubled by now. Many are reluctant to spend a little bit for protection but being affected will cost ten times as much.”

As Professor Manning points out, there are several layers of exposure here. There is clear risk to the victim’s business – not just the immediate payment, but in weakening relationships with their customers: “If you’re supplying a retailer, do you want to tell them that you’ve had a ransomware threat and that you have lost control of your business’ overall security as a result?”

Protecting yourself

Everybody is affected by cybercrime, from smallholders right through to significant commercial farms and large estates. There is a similarly large spectrum of cybercriminal. Some are bored hackers, while others are much more professional.

“Farmers, of course, want nothing to do with this,” says Andrew Smith. “Unfortunately, criminals are not so considerate. Taking the necessary precautions is common sense. As with other crimes, the more difficult you make it for criminals, the less likely they are to prey on you.”

“Do not be that farmer. Do not get into this horrible situation. Seek out proper guidance, invest in the right software and make sure you’re protected.”

“Whenever you have a benefit, there is some vulnerability,” adds Professor Manning. “Many businesses are attacked by malware or ransomware. We just don’t hear about it. The criminals seeking your data are entrepreneurial – they will find ways to develop their own business model for stealing your data. Farmers should be aware of the risks and seek out effective protection and guidance that keeps their business safe.”

How can your farm be more secure? For advice and a no-pressure discussion, contact our knowledgeable team on 01594 545033 or access our range of IT services here.