One question we often get from growers is "What’s the difference between Conservis and an accounting system?"
The short answer: Conservis is not an accounting system, and our tools work best in partnership with good accounting software.
Conservis fills in the gap between accounting and agronomic systems by providing the management data you need to understand how your business is operating and how to make it work better each year. Accounting systems show transitions of cash in and cash out. Conservis allows robust planning and budgeting, visibility into field level activity and financial analysis, tools for managing ownership, and strong tools for operational management in the day-to-day. It's important to have both types of systems.
What do accounting systems do well?
Accounting systems are important for several reasons. Their core focus is to track actual spending and other standard accounting activities. Another aspect is their ability to generate financial statements such as balance sheets, income statements and statements of cash flow. A final reason to have an accounting system is to make doing your taxes easier.
Most accounting systems look backwards at what you've already done. It's important to understand what farm management software can do that accounting software can't.
Conservis farm management software
What does our farm management software do well?
Conservis is a farm management software system. It has a much finer grain of detail than an accounting system. Think of it this way: if an accounting system gives you a view of your operation at 20,000 feet, Conservis gives you a view at 10 feet. Though our tools do offer big-picture analysis, there's so much that tracks what's happening on your farm in much more detail than an accounting system can. While accounting systems look backwards, Conservis looks forward by helping you understand where your operation is headed. Conservis matches your crop revenue to all the costs that you incurred to grow that crop and shows you a true view of profitability.
Hear straight from some of our customers about the best aspects of Conservis.
Budgeting and planning to actual costs
Our system helps you plan strategically and then see how reality is lining up with your plans, with the ability to adjust along the way and make better decisions each year.
"Planning and Budgeting is a good way to see where we can lock in future prices to make us profitable."
"Everything in budgeting is a guess," says Reno Brueggeman of Brueggeman Crop Services. "You take your 10-year average and what you think you're going to raise and budget accordingly, but [Conservis] gives you a good idea of where you need to price your grain." (Read the Brueggeman Crop Services case study.)
"Since I've already got everything planned and budgeted right there, I can drop in and say, ‘What if I want to grow mustard instead of feed barley? How’s that going to affect my bottom line?’ Then I can make a decision, ‘Yeah, I think I want to grow mustard, or I want to grow flax, or maybe cut back and grow a different kind of wheat,’" says Ryan Christensen of BKR Farms in Grace, ID. "Planning and Budgeting makes it so easy to make those decisions as time changes and as markets change on a daily basis. In just the five months since I’ve been using Planning and Budgeting, I've changed my thoughts this spring regarding my plan, based on current market prices and market availability." (Read the BKR Farms case study.)
Field-level detail with Zone Economics
Our Zone Economics platform allows growers to drill down and connect their agronomic decisions with their financial results.
"We're able to pull up a field and see different areas of the field and what are our productivity is. We can also compare that to our cost. To see that at the end of the season and tie all these different data points together to look at dollars per acre in an individual area on a field is phenomenal," says Aaron Lee of Cornerstone Farms in Cornerstone, IN.
"Being able to pull up reports and see exactly what you're doing and where your dollars are going and how those dollars translate into more revenue, it's just another level of control in a different aspect than just yield. It really translates into a dollar figure," says Andrew Wiens of Wiens Farms in Beatrice, NE, a younger farmer just beginning to experiment with Zone Economics. "Seeing [on a] per acre basis what pays and what doesn't is something we're very interested in." (Read the Wiens Farms case study.)
"When I first looked into Conservis, Jack [Conservis rep] told me about Zone Economics, allowing me to play around with it and I was like, ‘Wow, this is really cool and kind of a game-changer,'" says Christensen at BKR. "Not only do you have a yield number associated with an input, but you have the money factor as well. I want to know where my money can be best spent. Other software systems have allowed me to pull up my yield and input maps, but there's not been a financial relationship between the two. Other systems don’t show what individual acres cost me, or what individual zones cost me."
"What I love about Conservis is being able to see what your inputs are and your return on investment, because that's the bottom line. You can have amazing high yields, but unless you know what's going into producing those yields, then big yields don't matter. Because you could be a big yielder and still lose money if you're not understanding your input costs.”
Farm operations are complex and can quickly become moreso with multiple people involved in the business. Conservis makes that management much, much easier.
“With the capability that Conservis has, the data coming has just been amazing. All the data that is stored is relayed back to our land owners," says Laura Schmitt at MBS Family Farms in Plainfield, IA.
"The volume of money required to sustain a family, it just seems like it's a lot more of a challenge. One of the reasons we've decided to integrate Conservis is because of that. There's five of us, there's many landlords. With more acres, more inputs, more people involved, you need more than that notebook, pencil and calculator," says Scott Wiens at Wiens Farms. Scott farms with his brother, sons and nephew. "That was the big problem for us, it was a big pain," added his nephew, Collin. "I can remember my dad in the office just taking days to do splits for landlords and such. That was a big turning point for us."
"You may have a spring where it rains all the time so you change up your chemical program because you couldn't get this done. In the end, you have what you paid for in advance, and you have what you actually used. The difference between those two has to be split between all of our landlords and us, among all of our farms and fields which are many different lease and ownership arrangements," added Scott. "Conservis will do that. That's a time consuming, pain-staking process for a guy with a pencil, a calculator and a spreadsheet." (Read the Weins Farms case study.)
A big part of what we do well is helping growers get their crews where they need to be, completing what needs to be done. We believe that your farm's finances should be tied to your operational data. Some of our primary tools exist to help growers like you manage the operational details.
“We use [Conservis] to help manage our outside helpers,” said Parker Merritt at MBS Family Farms. "It’s seamless for them to open up that work order on their phone, see what they’re supposed to be doing in that field and then go ahead and make that happen. [It's also] very easy to update plan changes on the fly. Conservis has made it very easy to communicate to the person doing the work."
“Conservis has been a great communication component between us in the office and the guys in the farm," says Mollie Fiocello at Sproule Farms in Grand Forks, ND. "I can easily log in, see what they've been doing, how far they got, without having to bug the guys when I know they're busy."
In the future
Will Conservis ever incorporate accounting tools?
We bring our strengths to the table, accounting software brings theirs, and together they're a powerful solution for control and insight on the farm. Conservis works best paired with an accounting system — they're truly complementary. There are a few reasons we don't do what an accounting system does or plan to in the future.
First, our solutions are focused on crops. We serve both row crop and permanent crop farmers. However, it's typical for cropping to be just one aspect of an operation. Many have livestock, trucking, or other aspects of the business, so a more general accounting system is optimal to support the whole operation's finances.
Second, if we became an accounting system, users would be forced to use Conservis for their accounting needs, eliminating flexibility and choices for our growers. Every operation is different and has varying needs and requirements. As a platform we want to not only stay nimble to solve issues on the farm, but also to partner with multiple accounting systems, all to best serve our customers in their unique operations. We do provide an easy accounting data import that works with most accounting systems (such as Quickbooks, CenterPoint Accounting for Ag, FBS Systems, Xero, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Oracle NetSuite and more). This ensures your accounting and operational data remain linked, so you can see the big picture.
If you're considering farm management software for your operation, we'll work with you regarding your accounting needs. Our team in Planning and Budgeting or Financial Management would be happy to advise regarding the accounting systems that work best with our solutions.
Conservis is the leading independent farm management software. Wondering what we could do for your operation?