Tracking Labor for Time and Enterprise Budgeting

2009 Annual Report for ONE09-110

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2009: $5,828.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Northeast
State: New Hampshire
Project Leader:
Seth Wilner
UNH Cooperative Extension

Tracking Labor for Time and Enterprise Budgeting


Seven farmers from three individual farms and one Cooperative Extension Educator met to asses mechanisms to measure labor inputs on a per enterprise basis for diversified vegetable operations. One of the farmers learned of a company that sells a hand held device. The Extension educator called the company (Exaktime) and researched the project. He then brought this research back to the farmers. All agreed to move forward in ways that met their individual farms. One farmer is seeking to measure labor on all 29 crops, while two other farms will measure labor for seven to 10 select crops. The Extension educator agreed to provide project oversight and technical assistance. The farmers agreed to collect the data and participate in the dissemination of information upon conclusion of the project. All of the farmers also agreed to develop and share enterprise budgets for the crops involved.

Objectives/Performance Targets

One of the collaborating farmers previously ran large construction crews and knew of handheld electronic devices to track workforce productivity and clock crews at different worksites. He researched whether any such application was available for agriculture. He found a company that had modified such a handheld device for use on large farms in California. The company is called Exaktime and their device is called the PocketClock.

The company has designed this device so that each farm can program in the activities and enterprises they want to track. Once programmed, simple touches of the hand held kiosk enables the users to track activities and equipment associated with the enterprises, the employees who performed the work, and how long it took them to complete the tasks. The information logged in the devices is then uploaded to a PC by simply placing the PocketClock in a cradle connected to the computer. The software that comes with the device allows the farmer to perform a variety of analysis. Another piece of software transfers information to QuickBooks, reducing payroll time.

These devices appear very promising and easy to use, yet no one in our region has employed these on their farms. Are they as good as promised? Will they successfully be able to track such diversified data as farmers perform twenty to forty minute tasks and then move onto others?

Three diversified farms are willing to take the time and put in the effort to test these devices. Two of the farms will attempt to track all of the equipment and labor associated with each crop enterprise, while the third is too large and will seek to track their major enterprises that include: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, sweet corn, potatoes, scallions, field tomatoes and greenhouse tomatoes.

The three participating farms are representative of many farms in our region. One farm has the enviable dilemma of trying to support two adult offspring who wish to come back and work on the farm full time. A second farm is questioning whether to buy a cultivating tractor to save money on labor and is also questioning dropping or expanding crops. This same farm also desires information on how much labor is truly needed and when. The third farm needs information to make crop mix decisions and also to increase their labor efficiency to ratchet up farm profits.

We feel that by testing these devices on three different, diversified farms that are representative of many regional farms, we can truly provide valuable data. If the devices work, farmers can learn from our successes and set backs and create a system for their own farms. If the devices are not practical to use, then farmers will be able to learn from our efforts and avoid the monetary and time expenditures of attempting to track labor and equipment costs in this manner.

No doubt each farm will have unique experiences trying to develop a system, implement it, and manipulate the data. I will work with the company and the farmers to learn how to use the devices, collect the data, and manipulate it so that crop enterprise budgets and farm labor budgets can be developed. We will share this information with growers through the outreach plan described below. It is important to note that the farmers are only asking for the costs of the equipment and software and are willing to provide all the labor and effort in kind.


To date each farm received their electronic hand-held devices and technical support to be able to use these. Each farm has also delineated the crops, activities, and fields where the data collection will occur. Finally, all the farmers on these farms that will have data collection responsibilities have been trained.

As of January 1, 2010, the farms have begun collecting and entering data. The data collection phase will take place throughout the 2010 growing season.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

These will be reported at the conclusion of the 2010 growing season.


Lockwood Sprague

Edgewater Farm
99 River Road
Plainfield, NH 03781
Office Phone: 6032988391
Steve Fulton

Blue Ox Farm
Rt 4
Enfield, NH 03872
Office Phone: 6036329643
Michael Smith

Gypsy Meadows Farm
P.O. Box 9
Plainfield, NH 03781
Office Phone: 6034544455