In February 2013 Pilkington Farms approached Landmark Systems about upgrading its accounting and property management system for the large arable farm partnership and property portfolio near Hitchin. Set in traditional parkland on the eastern edge of the Chilterns the 4,000-acre in-hand mixed enterprise, is part of the 7,000-acre King’s Walden Estate, and is run as part of the Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship Scheme (HLS).

The main farming enterprises are growing best quality wheat for both Hovis and Warburtons, and keeping native and rare breeds of sheep, cattle and pigs with an aim of making the animals work for the business economically.  Meat is in demand locally encouraged by television chefs promoting the benefits of traditional breeds; part of the farm’s sustainable strategy is to educate people by running courses and demonstrations on how meat is prepared and how to look for the best cut.

In the office the software which was in place was restricting the accounting and property management function, the property portfolio is both residential and commercial and is made up of 100-150 properties.

As an example it was difficult to edit transactions and to track debtors. There was also a heavy reliance on paper records for the properties, and a lack of integration between the two systems which led to limited enterprise analysis and reporting.

Landmark’s Jo Lutey (Eastern Sales and Training Team) demonstrated KEYPrime Advanced Accounts linked to both KEYPrime Property and the existing Gatekeeper crop recording software. Jo showed them the improved functionality allowed by the newer software technology, how reduced duplication and consolidation could improve efficiency and explained the benefits of an integrated networked system.

“The use of property recording software such as KEYPrime Property reduces the reliance on one person, or several individuals for historical and physical knowledge of each property. It has the added advantage of ensuring that important dates are not missed because once the program is set up, it will flag them up for you using the  sophisticated diary and terrier system. Over time a proper record can be built up using the flexible user-definable fields, such as size and area, including photographs and special notes. The automatic generation of rent demand statements, with demands posted directly to the KEYPrime accounts software, greatly reduces workload, and a checking system is provided by the reports run prior to the demand,”  comments Jo Lutey.

Pilkington Farms Partnership could see that the structure of enterprises within KEYPrime Advanced Accounting software allowed for sub-division into the relevant departments and further still by the use of analysis codes.  The farm has a strong environmental focus but cannot afford to let go of its commercial aims so they like this level of detail.

“KEYPrime gives us an easy performance measurement in net margin terms by enterprise. The farm management has easy access to frequent reviewing of data not only of the business as a whole but broken down further at the touch of a button, reducing the reliance on exporting to Excel. Reporting over any given time period against budget is another bonus.”

– Pilkington Farms Partnership, Hertfordshire