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New Farm Software Even Pumps Simulated Gas into the Tractor

By Don Comis
November 14, 1997


Imagine a checkbook-balancing computer program--that also maps your driving route and tracks your car’s gas mileage and every mile you’ve ever driven.

Change the car to a tractor and you’ve got an idea of FarmWin 97. Sam Alessi, a systems scientist with the Agricultural Research Service, helped develop FarmWin 97 through a cooperative research and development agreement between USDA and a group of Minnesota farmers--a first for the department. Alessi is based at ARS’ North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory in Morris, Minn.

The program graphically displays many farm tasks, right down to draining gas tanks, and farmers can do computerized “dry runs” before actually performing various operations. For example, they can move animals from barn to field and operate machinery just by clicking a mouse. The program, written for the Windows 95 operating system, works as well for 10 acres as for 10,000 acres.

The program is being marketed this year by a farmer-owned company, Sunrise Software, Inc., of Morris. Sunrise president Kevin Brustuen wants FarmWin 97 to set the standard in farm software so all other farm programs will be compatible with it.

FarmWin 97 can be quickly and easily linked to other commercial programs. Recently, it was linked to a program that maps crop yields within 2 to 6 feet of the combine in non-simulated action. The mapping program uses a global positioning receiver in the combine to locate it via satellite. Farmers click on yield maps to access FarmWin 97's field history.

Another recent advance in the program gives farmers the ability to electronically transfer field data to consultants or crop insurance firms, who then generate reports from their “master” FarmWin 97 programs.