News

Australian Customer Releases DK Based Farm Management Software Product

Hawthorn East, Victoria, Australia
April 26, 2004

The farm management application described below was developed by Darren Bruning, in Hawthorn East in the state of Victoria, Australia, using the Developer Kernel (VCL). Darren has been a DK licensed user since March, 2003. An evaluation version of his FarmKeeper software product may be downloaded from www.farmkeeper.com.

 

With a design focus on simplicity and utility, FarmKeeper brings the power of GIS into the hands of the farming community. FarmKeeper enables farmers to quickly create and use productively a map of their farm, while shielding the user from the complexities inherent in many GIS implementations. FarmKeeper is marketed by FarmKeeper Party Ltd., (www.farmkeeper.com), primarily in Australia and New Zealand

Using FarmKeeper is a three-step process: "map your farm", "keep farm records", and "take it with you".

Step 1: Map your farm
A farm map is created based on either an aerial photograph, or a tracklog from a consumer-level GPS device. Fence lines are then drawn on the map, from which FarmKeeper determines fenced areas. Fenced areas are then named as paddocks, and colored in with a specific ground surface. Other line features (such as waterlines) and point features (such as buildings) can also be added to the map.

Step 2: Keep farm records
Having created a farm map, the next step is to keep records of day-to-day farm management activities, directly from the map. Click on a paddock, and choose an item from the context menu to enter information such as pasture cover, fertilizer application, or general paddock activities. Drag an animal icon between paddocks to enter a grazing record. Integrated reports can be run to summaries data in the standard report format, or as a graph, or as a color-coded overlay on the farm map.

Step 3: Take it with you
FarmKeeper comes with a companion product, FarmKeeper Mobile, which runs on a compatible handheld device. FarmKeeper Mobile synchronizes with FarmKeeper on the desktop, to make historical paddock management data available to the farmer out on the farm. New information entered into FarmKeeper Mobile is seamlessly synchronized with the main data file on the desktop PC.
 

Application main window
 
Mapping Window
   

Use of TatukGIS technology
Explains Darren Bruning, the creator of the FarmKeeper product, "Before creating FarmKeeper, we evaluated a number of different GIS toolkits. The TatukGIS VCL DK appealed to us because of its flexibility, execution speed and royalty-free distribution. The ability to compile the GIS technology directly into the application was also appealing, for ease of deployment. Rather than use the integrated editing facilities that are part of the TatukGIS DK itself, however, we chose implement our own special custom editor interface to the FarmKeeper product to make the process of creating a farm map particularly user friendly. The flexibility of the TatukGIS DK allowed us to implement our own custom editing interface while still utilizing the power and speed of the DK's display engine."

Daren further explains, "For example, we felt that each fence should be drawn only once, and our application should be responsible for detecting when fences meet and determining what area they encompass. Other farm mapping products force each fence to be drawn twice, as part of two different polygons to define the two different paddocks on either side of the fence. We developed custom algorithms to handle such complex situations as fences inside fences, breaking and rejoining fences, and moving fences once drawn. Although the algorithms are complex, they allow the program to appear incredibly simple to the user, who simply has to draw fences on the screen and the areas inside the fences are recognized automatically. We created our own SQL database storage layer to support our unique editing interface, and had no problems integrating this custom storage with the main DK engine."

Darren adds, "We received outstanding support from the TatukGIS team throughout our development process. The support staff was always accurate, informative, approachable and honest, and emails were answered promptly and accurately."
 

Map Report, with color theme
 
Hand held mobile application

For more information or to download an evaluation copy of FarmKeeper, please visit www.farmkeeper.com

 

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