Melton Mowbray farmer Eric Wright explains how the Smart Farmer app offered his farm a simple way to improve worker safety. Farmers Guide also caught up with the app’s creator Marc Skivington about the range of updates on the way.
Farmer Eric Wright says keeping workers safe has become a growing challenge and priority for his arable business, Wrights Agriculture, over the years, as his team has grown. After exploring the available apps for completing safety checks on machinery and equipment, he says he chose Smart Farmer because of its QR code scanner and the ability to customise checks.
During harvest there can be in excess of 20 staff using the app and Eric says it has allowed him to keep an increasing number of people safe, whilst maintaining communication and providing peace of mind that checks are being completed.
Two of the app’s most beneficial features, he says, are the QR code scanner – which allows operators to scan the sticker on a piece of equipment and instantly pull up the checklist rather than trawl through a long list of options – and the customisable nature of the checks. For one machine, the number of checks has been reduced from 51 to 10, to focus on key safety elements such as lights, brakes, tyres and wing mirrors, and ensure staff can complete the checks quickly. In just a short time, the app has helped the farm to identify a number of faults that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.
Asked if he would recommend it to other farmers he says: “Completely. It costs less than a moisture meter for measuring grain and it can keep a small team or a massive team safe, so its completely scalable and priced appropriately.”
The farm had previously tried using paper sheets and a dropbox system for recording checks, but with limited success. “With Smart Farmer, operators have it on their phones, the checks are really easy to use and if there are any issues that they’re not able to address, they can notify a manager by email.”
App updates on the way
Smart Farmer was voted the second must-have safety app by farmers during Farm Safety Week in July and has been nominated for two awards – Agri-tech Innovation at the British Farming Awards and Best Digital Innovation at the Scottish Rural Awards.
Its creator Marc Skivington says a range of new updates are on the way, but the app will remain at its current price. New additions in the coming weeks will include the launch of risk assessments and training documents. If an operator has not been trained to use a piece of kit this will be flagged in the app and a training document will appear, followed by a multiple-choice questionnaire. The administrator of the site will be notified of its completion.
Other new features will include a GPS locator for lone worker safety, and a hazard alert system, which sends users a ping notification when they come within 10m of a hazard, such as overhead power cables.
The app highlights the status of equipment using a simple traffic light system. It already covers unlimited users and machinery, can record and print service reports and daily usage of machinery, as well as notifying users when a service is due. Is it also possible to take and upload photos of any issues.
As a cloud-based service, data is shared with everyone on the farm, so that all team members know the status and condition of the equipment. Importantly, any data gathered belongs to the farmer, not Smart Farmer, so it will not be shared, Marc says.