Crop management software

Improve your production and financial record keeping with the new e.Clipse software from FBS Systems. The software maintains production and financial information with one set of entries for every phase of a cropping operation. It automates time-consuming or difficult chores such as field entries and cost allocations. The software also provides detailed cost-of-production information on every phase of the farm operation.

The software is a Windows-based inventory valuation and job-costing system with managerial accounting capability that meets the guidelines of the Farm Financial Standards Council. This means terms and definitions used in the software are those used by accounting firms and other financial groups.

E.Clipse replaces the traditional “enterprise analysis” method with a managerial accounting method that looks at “profit and cost centers.” It uses activity-cost logic to determine how all resources, such as equipment and labor, should be allocated to crop stages and fields. This provides an accurate assignment of all costs through the life of the crop.

The optional Mach 1.0 interface links an accounting capability to SSToolbox, a farm mapping system.

FBS first marketed e.Clipse to hog operations two years ago. Now more than one million hogs are managed through the program. FBS introduced the crop version last month at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, KY.

The suggested retail price of the new software for growers who own an FBS system is $1,500. The complete e.Clipse software and SST package retails for $3,500 (training not included). Windows 98 and Pentium III or higher are required. The company recommends that users work under the guidance of a qualified accountant. Contact FBS (Farm Business Software), Dept. FIN, 1855 55th Ave., Aledo, IL 61231, 800/437-7638, visit www.fbssystems.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin.

Photo phones

Five years ago, no one thought farmers would be snapping photos of tractors and plant diseases with a digital camera, let alone sending them over the Internet. Ten years ago, the idea of a farmer with a cell phone seemed far-fetched.

Now some farmers and their equipment dealers are happily sending one another digital photos via e-mail, and cell phones have replaced the fencing pliers as the most important accessory on a farmer's belt. A new convergence of wireless phones and digital cameras was only a matter of time.

The latest generation of mobile phones now combines color digital photography, view screens and Internet access. These camera phones let you take a photo and send it to another phone, or to the Internet.

The Sanyo SCP-5300 PicturePhone is one of many sure to come. The $400 device has a built-in camera, flash, digital zoom, Web access and instantly available thumbnail images. The Samsung SPH-A500 is another phone in this category, but its camera is a peripheral device that needs to be plugged in. It costs a bit less at $300.

Watch for prices to drop as more phones like these hit the market. If you can't wait, watch for rebate programs from electronics stores such as Circuit City and Best Buy. These can knock $100 or more off the price.

Both Sanyo and Samsung phones are useful anyplace that has coverage on the Nationwide PCS network. Right now, that network still has significant gaps in farm country. But it continues to ramp up, and it's likely you already have coverage if you are near a city or an interstate highway. To send photos, you'll need the PCS Vision service plan, which starts at $10/month on top of your voice plan. For more information, visit www.sanyowireless.com, www.samsungusa.com or www.sprintpcs.com.

More than autosteer

Trimble is now offering the AgGPS 170 field computer (shown) as an option for the autopilot automated steering system. The new field computer is a field information management system that enhances the steering system's capabilities. With the AgGPS FieldManager software, the new computer helps users map field boundaries, perform topographic mapping, log application coverage, manage variable rate applications, and interface with grade-control components to provide field leveling for water management and field forming. It features a bright, daylight-readable color display. Circle 194.

The company also introduces the AgGPS FieldLevel, which uses GPS technology to help farmers level land. FieldLevel is available as an RTK or DGPS solution. The RTK option provides 10 times the horizontal range as laser leveling, and no vertical limit. With GPS only, it provides uninhibited 3D leveling for rough grading. Using DGPS leveling, GPS provides horizontal positioning while the laser system provides vertical positioning. Operators may choose which option best suits their needs.

Contact Trimble, Dept. FIN, 9290 Bond St., Suite 102, Overland Park, KS 66214, 913/495-2700, or visit www.trimble.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin.