Fonterra farmers pride themselves on sustainably producing safe, high-quality milk, from healthy, well-cared-for cows in an environmentally friendly manner.
As a Co-operative, Fonterra and its farmers are increasingly required to provide evidence showing compliance while finding ways to leverage additional value from the data. This additional data gives customers, markets, communities and regulators confidence in the Co-operative’s Trusted Goodness™ claims — a promise to Kiwis and the world to ensure the high-quality milk product is protected as it journeys through the value chain from grass to glass.
To uphold the Trusted Goodness™ promise, Fonterra have stringent processes in place through the grass to glass supply chain. This requires farmers to record a great deal of information for the 5 focus areas of Co-operative Difference (COD) – Milk Quality, Animal Wellbeing, Environment, People & Community and Co-op & Prosperity.
The Co-operative wishes to collaborate with and support farmers by providing effective tools to make life easier while encouraging and supporting best practice.
Historically, Fonterra assembled a thick hardcover paper book called the Dairy Diary to provide farmers with a centralised place to record Milk Quality information. A printed book has several drawbacks, from the cost of production and distribution through to the lack of ability to collate and analyse data to understand trends and risks.
Solnet collaborated with Fonterra and Trineo (a Salesforce partner) to digitise the Dairy Diary. This collaboration yielded a mobile application that makes it faster and easier to track and record farm information. The diary is now in the palms of farmers’ hands!
The mobile application allows farmers to record a wide variety of farm activities including animal treatments, grazing, monthly hygiene checks, the use of fertilizer, agrichemical sprays and supplementary feed. All of these features can be used even if the device is offline.
The data farmers enter is used by them for review, analysis and reporting of their farm operation as well as easy provisioning for on-farm assessors where approved – resulting in more efficient farm visits.
Surfacing the right data in the right format
Solnet developed the Dairy Diary mobile application using innovative hybrid technology and their guiding development framework. This maximises the reuse of technical components for better maintainability and cross-platform compatibility.
Solnet’s team also worked collaboratively with Trineo to determine the best data structure and model to allow for smooth exchange between systems.
It was critical that data flow easily between the mobile application, the website, and Fonterra’s Salesforce database, aptly named Farmer Central. So, Solnet built an essential integration layer (API) which allows fast, secure data communication to occur between these elements.
Using data and farmer feedback to plan improvements
Solnet and Fonterra designed the Dairy Diary mobile application to be easily extendable. The development team continues to run two-week sprints and has the ability to deliver incremental improvements to the app (for both iOS and Android) after each sprint.
In true agile manner, the contents of each sprint are determined by the Product Owner who takes into account analytics, user feedback and the general product roadmap. Several farmers participate actively in consultation by reviewing proposed wireframes shared on a limited access mobile message group. These users provide crucial real-world feedback and advice about how to implement new features, often within minutes.
When new versions of the app load onto a user’s device, the user is taken through a series of “What’s New” screens to explain the new features, ask for more feedback, and increase overall user engagement.
Farmers manage farm activity on the go
Information entered into the Digital Dairy Diary is stored directly on the device the farmer is using, and the mobile application still functions when farmers are outside network range. This enables farmers to record and track an impressive amount of data about animal wellbeing, their pastures, and grazing schedules as they move through the day without worry.
Upon opening the mobile application when a network is available, data is automatically synchronised to an online repository for safekeeping and subsequent access.
Benefits for all stakeholders
Recording essential farm activities has never been more natural! There are many advantages for farmers using the Dairy Diary mobile application.
- Helps farmers stay on top of animal health treatments as they occur.
- Dairy Diary helps farmers manage their paddocks for grazing as well as recording their use of fertiliser, agrichemicals, and supplementary feed as required for compliance with New Zealand regulations.
- Dairy Diary provides a rich set of reports that help farmers visualise their recordings over time. These reports include monthly insights about both animal treatments and land use, which are unique to the digital Dairy Diary vs. the previous paper-based recording diary.
- Fonterra’s farm owners, managers and farmers, with appropriate authority, can view online information 24x7 from any device, anywhere.
- The mobile application makes it easy for farmers to demonstrate their practices and detailed record keeping to dairy assessors. This saves time and money for farmers and for Fonterra.
- Entering data next year will be even easier as data from this year will be pre-populated.
- Prevents duplication by pre-populating data into other areas that use the same data (e.g. Farm Dairy Records)
Now that Dairy Diary is online, it’s clear for everyone involved that records are being kept in good order and that associated on-farm activities are helping the Co-Operative uphold its promise to customers and consumers.
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