Small Farm Software Tools

Posted by Kristen Nammour on April 01, 2019 4 Comments

Smart Phone in produce1

Software Tools for Small Farms, By Chris Bodnar

This article has been expanded and kept updated from the original which was published in COABC’s BC Organic Grower, Volume 16, Number 3, Summer, 2013

Find more farm business resources  on our FARM BUSINESS TOOLS PAGE

Many organic farms have a special binder. The binder holds field records, crop plans, a multitude of to-do lists and miscellaneous notes. The binder is sacred; should it ever go missing, the following year’s organic inspection would be a nightmare. The farm’s operations depend on a bundle of papers that, with one drop in a mud puddle, could cause a lot of unnecessary stress.

Whether your record keeping involves such a binder, spreadsheets or any other systems you’ve developed over the years, you are likely aware of the value of the information you have accumulated over the years. Moving your record keeping to a specialized program can help to make this information more useful and more organized

In this article, I review a number of record keeping and CSA management software tools that I have tested over the past year. Our farm business has successfully transitioned to electronic record keeping and CSA management programs that, ultimately, have made our work easier and more efficient.



It would stand to reason that a record keeping program designed by organic farmers to meet the expectations of organic certification programs would best meet the needs of organic farmers. This is certainly the case with software tools like COG-Pro.

COG-Pro is designed to keep track of records from the point of developing your seed order right through to recording harvest yields and sales. If used to its fullest extent, growers can track seeds through the entire growing process using lot numbers from seed packages, generate seed records (e.g. demonstrate your search and use of organic seed), produce fields plans, seeding records, fertility records and harvest records.

In addition to crops, COG-Pro also offers modules for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) record keeping as well as for livestock records. A feature of the software allows growers to provide a read-only password to Verification Officers and Certification Bodies to review records prior to site visits.

COG-Pro is cloud-based. This means data is stored on remote servers so you can access your account from any computer with an internet connection and you don’t have to worry about backing up files. More than one person can access your account at the same time and anyone with the account password can enter information to records.

COG-Pro features an intuitive and simple interface design. When using the program on a desktop computer, the layout looks like a notebook with tabs. This makes the software easy to understand and use. COG-Pro can be used on all mobile devices as well as desktop computers. The company’s support service is exceptional.

Our farm business began using COG-Pro this past season. We highly recommend the software.

COG-Pro costs $79/year for its crop module, $129 for the crop and GAP modules or the crop and livestock modules or $159 for the crop, GAP and livestock modules. There are prices for a 2 year subscription that provides a discount.

COG-PRO Screenshot


A new arrival to the record keeping options is VeggieTables. VeggieTables is perfect for small to mid-size organic farms because it has all of the features of COG-Pro with a few additional features, like labour and expense tracking. It also supports multiple user accounts so different individuals can enter data, allowing you to better manage workers.
One of the most compelling features is that it works offline, so you can make changes while working without a signal (i.e. in the field) and sync the changes to the cloud later when you have Internet access.
In addition, VeggieTables is aesthetically clean and simple to use. It normally costs $89/year plus $19 per additional user. However, a special offer is available to readers of Young Agrarians. Sign up with Promo Code “YA2015” to get a completely free account, no strings attached.


This product attempts to bring together a range of functions from farm mapping and crop planning to record keeping and harvest records.

In AgSquared, growers are able to set up a work plan for the season. Tasks can be assigned to specific dates or time periods. Work plans can then be generated and printed for specific days, weeks or months. Once completed, planned tasks can be checked off and then become records of tasks completed.

The program is cloud-based and they have developed a mobile version so it is accessible through desktop, lap top, tablets and phones.  AgSquared offers various webinars to help learn about the program’s features. It also provides unlimited e-mail support.

The major drawback of AgSquared is its complexity. The program’s creators have big plans, but some of what the software is designed to manage seems overly complex, if not unrealistic. The flash-based interface ran too slowly on over our internet connection. Very little about the program felt intuitive.

AgSquared subscriptions come in three levels. Simple Farm is $10 user/mo for up to 5 users and provides farm mapping, record keeping and task management. Total Farm provides everything in the previous version plus streamline your record keeping and workflows, create crop plans, harvest forcasts and budgets and produce a rangeof useful reports on yields, finances and food safety. Total Farm costs $50 / user/ mo on up to 500 acres. There is also a  third-tier option called Enterprise that is a fully customizable solution for your farm record keeping, pricing based on teh scope of your needs.

AgSquared Screenshot


HarvestBoard is the holistic software solution for diversified farms. Use HarvestBoard to:

  • Create a personalized online store to sell your inventory of diversified farm products.
  • Consolidate orders into harvesting and packing lists.
  • Link directly with reports and invoices.
  • Help increase your client-base and the amount you can sell with ease.

The service is currently free to use but will eventually charge a 1.15% fee on all invoices processed through the site.


Farmbrite has a more holistic take on farm software. You can track livestock, crops, equipment, accounting and more. They give a free 14-day trial of the software for growers and livestock owners. There are a whole range of features from crop planning to harvest, farm mapping and weather, livestock management, genealogy records and grazing, equipment and maintenance records and a whole accounting section to track your profits and expenses.

In Farmbrite, you can plan your crops from seed order all the way to your harvest profits. Make notes quickly with the use of QR codes in the field. Track your livestock records and health on the go. Track vaccination and growth records, bill of sale, genealogy charting, grazing and more. You can also track your profits and expenses in the accounting section, track your equipment records, services, images and files and keep a To-Do list by the map of your farm. There are lots of quick view reports to give you an idea of where you are on the daily.

The program is cloud-based and mobile enabled so you can use it on a tablet, computer or mobile phone (native mobile version is in testing now and should be released soon).

Farmbrite has a help forum where you can search help items, find help through unlimited email support or you can call and talk to someone if you need more help.

Their pricing is set up so you can either pay as you go or all at once. It starts at $15 a month/$165 a year for Basic, or $30 a month/ $275 a year for Crops or Livestock, or $50 a month/$385 a year for their Professional version that has everything.


Square – Point of Sale

Do you ever have to decline sales at the farmers market because people don’t have enough cash? Want to take deposits for larger advance orders? Square allows you to accept credit cards using your smart phone. Low transaction fees, one free card reader (additional readers $10 each) and no need for a merchant account make this an economic way to accept sales you might otherwise lose. Plus, you can track all sales for the day (no cost for using the app to track cash sales), include inventory and you can even sync your Square account to Quickbooks, providing easier integration with your bookkeeping tasks. End result: capture non-cash sales while building data about the number of daily sales, average size of sales and products sold, all to help you better understand your customers’ choices. Software tools like Square typically charge you a percentage of the value of the transaction – Square charges 2.6% plus 10 cents for each sale. There are no additional account or processing fees and no minimum amounts. Cash is deposited into your bank account the next business day.

Square Payment Farmers Market

Moneris Payd Pro

A new product from Canadian payment processing company Moneris allows small businesses to accept debit cards as well as credit cards via their mobile phone. Payd Pro provides a pin pad that syncs to your phone or tablet via bluetooth, allowing customers to enter their PIN without compromising security. Credit Card transactions are charged a 2.65% fee while debit transactions are included as part of the overall $19.95/month plan fee.

The major advantage to accepting more plastic payment at farmers markets is that it reduces the risk of losing money through theft or carelessness. Of course, you do need to make sure your phone or tablet isn’t stolen!


Four years ago I was at a breaking point with our farm’s CSA program. In order to provide adequate service to members, I was spending far too many hours on e-mail and the phone while navigating overly-complex spreadsheets. Despite best efforts, mistakes were made and parts of the program that relied on volunteers were hit-and-miss.

Moving to an online program allowed us to streamline our sign-up procedure, better communicate with members, manage harvest lists, sales records and packing lists, produce weekly delivery route sheets and even print our box labels from the software. By using an online store option available, members have been able to purchase additional items in their boxes. In a recent delivery, extra store orders increased the value of that week’s CSA deliveries by 50 percent! Our members report an increased satisfaction with their experience and our lives are much easier.

The programs noted below can be used by farmers for CSA management as well as by buying clubs to manage orders and deliveries.


After investigating a number of options we chose to use the Farmigo program for our CSA.

In the Farmigo system, the grower sets up pick-up locations, delivery routes and share options. Subscribers can then sign-up and manage their accounts online. Farms can choose to accept payments through Paypal, a merchant account, electronic cheque and or personal cheque.

During the delivery season, farmers can design their box contents, generate harvest and packing lists, print box labels and delivery routes and generate personalized e-mails to subscribers. A mobile app allows the farmer to manage subscriptions on the go, including sending e-mail confirmations to customers when deliveries are made.

Farmigo provides an exceptional user interface and support. The program is intuitive both for the farmers as well as for the customer. The software is easy to use and the interface is attractive. After signing up with Farmigo, farms are paired with a support person who provides weekly training sessions and holds the farm to a work plan to ensure the CSA is ready to accept sign-ups by the target date identified by the farm.

Farmigo charges 2 % of the value of deliveries with a $150 monthly minimum. You only pay for months when you have a delivery. With this fee structure, Farmigo is best suited to CSA programs valued at least $7,500/month.

Software Tools like Farmigo are very popular with Farmers

Harvie (formerly Small Farm Central)

Harvie is another option for CSA management. Harvie helps farms selling through a CSA / farm share model increase retention (+15-30% year-over-year retention) and meet sales growth targets while increasing overall profitability. To accomplish these goals, Harvie focuses on providing a better member experience that includes customized shares, flexible share sizes and flexible weeks. At the same time, Harvie streamlines administration so the customer-friendly features do not drive farmers crazy with logistics.

Harvie is also a marketing and customer service platform, as they provide a customized marketing plan to meet your membership goals and also handle customer service inquiries in tandem with the farmer. There is a one time set up fee of $500, a 7% transaction fee and 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction for credit cards.

Learn more at


Harvest Hand

Arriving in early 2015, Harvest Hand is a Canadian option for CSA management. Developed for a farm in Nova Scotia, the software has been tested by a number of different CSA farms in recent years and is now being offered to all CSA farms.

Harvest Hand integrates CSA management software with a template for the farm’s web page. E-mails to members are done through the software and logged on the farm’s blog (also on the website). This is an attractive option for farms who need a simple web site and e-mail management option in addition to their CSA software. Web site templates offered thus far are basic. Farms with developed web pages can seamlessly integrate the Harvest Hand platform into their  existing site. I expect to see more as the folks behind the product develop their software further and respond to farms’ needs.

Harvest Hand charges a flat fee of $10 for each member in your CSA (the first 10 members are free). You are charged this fee up front when members sign up. While it appears attractive, farms should do the math to compare their costs with each software program before making a decision.

Harvest Hand offers a complete package to farms who would like to keep their money in Canada and need an integrated web site, CSA management and blog capacity. Plus, the people behind the product are down-to-earth and energized to roll out their product to more farmers.

Software Tools like Harvest Hand include a Web Site Builder


An all-in-one order management platform built to be simple enough to get started in 10 minutes and powerful enough to manage all the intricacies of local, direct food sales. Reduce the time you spend at a desk with easy-to-build order forms and eliminate your spreadsheet confusion with Cropolis 1-click pick lists, pack lists, invoices, and more!

It’s mobile friendly, and has a tiered pricing system depending on the umber of orders per month. The Builder Plan includes up to 40 orders a month and costs $20/mo but does not allow for credit card sales. The Community Plan includes up to 160 order a month and has the capacity to accept credit card payments. The Enteprise Plan includes 160 plus order, the ability to accept credit payments and a higher responsiveness level of customer service.

Learn more at

Want it all in one place?

Local Orbit

Want to track everything in one place? Local Orbit integrates online ordering for customers, inventory tracking, financial management/bookkeeping, marketing and harvest logistics in one program. This is an advanced product that farmers investigating producer co-ops or food hubs should check out.

A powerful program, but it comes at a price; “Start” subscriptions start at $70/mo, “Grow” is $125/mo and “Accelerate” is $450 / mo .

Local orbit screenshot

Regardless of what program you choose for your record keeping and/or business management, your data will only be as good as the database that stores your information. To set up your account to function the way you want it to work will require a number of hours of work doing data entry and organizing your farm’s information. Start planning early for a transition next season to ensure you have enough time in the off-season to prepare.

Finally, make sure to investigate and ensure the product you choose meets your needs. Take time to talk with representatives from the companies before subscribing. Take advantage of free trials to play around with the product before committing. Once you choose a product you will be building a database of historical information about your operations. It will be difficult to change products in the future – not to mention the time it takes to set up another new system in the first place!

Find more resources for your farm on our FARM BUSINESS TOOLS PAGE

4 thoughts on “Small Farm Software Tools

  1. I think it would be unfair to not mention Tend ( in the conversation. It even has the endorsement of one of Canada’s most popular farmers Jean-Martin Fortier.
    Tend offers highly robust tools for crop planning and is adding even more features to manage Sales to restaurants and wholesalers.

    1. Thank you Stephan!
      Our Business Mentorship Coordinator will be updating this page next month, and we will definitely add in Tend. Thanks for your suggestion.


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