Today, health problems are at the forefront of our minds. Traceability is a topic that comes up frequently when talking about food safety. From seed lots to dinner tables, it refers to the ability to keep track of the produce through all the stages, including production, and distribution process. This may appear to be a substantial amount of paperwork.
Today, we’ll go over the fundamentals of farm traceability and how farm management software can help.
Claims that produce is local, organic, or otherwise are just that: claims without accurate record keeping. You can provide customers with evidence that supports and documents these claims if you have traceability.
This evidence has the potential to open up new markets.
Customer confidence and brand reputation can both benefit from traceability. Inventory accuracy, which is improved through traceability efforts, can also help to reduce spoilage and contraction.
When a food-borne illness (or other types of concern) occurs, however, the primary benefits of farm livestock traceability become apparent. Accurate record-keeping can aid in efficient (and less expensive) recalls the reduction of the impact of contaminated produce and the resolution of concerns and questions. Good records can also help you get back in business faster after a recall, especially if you can show that your lots were not included.
Traceability both Internally and Externally
Farmers must keep track both internally and externally in order to implement traceability. Internally, it refers to the location and method of production on the farm. This contains information such as the crop’s name and variety, the location of the block or field, treatment options, harvest dates, harvest crew, and so on.
External traceability necessitates both a one-step-back (your suppliers) and a one-step forward (your customers) (your buyers). Tracking suppliers entails keeping track of things like seed lot numbers and other inputs. Invoicing can be used to keep track of buyers. If you sell directly to customers, tracking may entail keeping a customer mailing list.
Making Use of Lot Codes
The use of unique codes associated with individual lots of produce allows for traceability. While the code can be any combination of numbers, letters, and colors, it can also be designed so that certain facts can be deduced at a glance. These could include the name of the crop and wide range, the field or block where it was grown, and the harvest and packing dates. Instead of months and days, Julian dates (numbering 1 to 365) can save space and make details less obvious to neutral viewers.
Your lot code may also contain information about your soil amendment applications, spray records, packinghouse details, harvest and packing crews, and other details.
These codes must be linked to each lot, usually through the use of stickers or stamps. The software makes it simple to print QR codes that link to all of this data and can be accessed using a smartphone from anywhere. It’s simple to post this information on bins and in the field by printing these codes on adhesive-backed paper.
Again, regardless of the code you use, each lot must have its own code, which should be visible on every container leaving your farm.
Software Can Assist with Traceability in Other Ways
While simple traceability measures can be implemented with a notebook, a pen, and some masking tape, technology can aid in the process.
When you add a new crop to any software, you’ll be prompted to enter farm-specific information such as the field and bed number. In addition, you’ll be asked for information specific to your inputs, such as the Seed Company, origin, and lot number. Once entered, this information is linked throughout the software and can be accessed whenever you need it. You can either manually enter a trace number or have one generated for you. It’s automatically linked to your inventory in either case. Similarly, when it comes to harvesting, you only need to enter the information once.
In the event of a food-borne illness, implementing accurate traceability can clearly be beneficial. It does, however, have advantages on non-emergency days. Traceability provides more reasons for your buyers and customers to buy from you. Farm traceability software can not only reduce the time it takes to track the information needed for traceability, but it can also make this information easily accessible.