“Spend more time making hay and less time doing paperwork.”

That's the slogan the Wood family of Bellwood, NE, uses to promote HayTrack, an inexpensive computer program that tracks hay inventories and other information.

John and Alice Wood, owners of Crucible Farms, along with Alice's dad, Arnold Romberg, a retired computer systems developer, designed the software for their own use. After they saw how well it worked for them, they decided to market it to owners of mid- and large-sized hay operations.

“HayTrack's eliminated a lot of the frustration we previously had not knowing exactly how much hay we had on hand and which lots were already promised to specific buyers,” says Alice. “Writing on the backs of envelopes and scraps of paper in the pickup truck isn't a good way to keep records.”

The couple first got the idea of developing a program to track inventories from a presentation at a Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association meeting.

In 2001, the threesome discussed what they thought the program should include, and Romberg, who lives in La Grange, TX, started creating it.

The Woods wanted a program that would track the movement of hay from every field and cutting as it was stored and later sold and loaded onto trucks. They also wanted it to quickly provide summaries of their entire inventory, including storage locations and lab-test data, and to track prices, buyers, potential buyers and truckers.

“Every time Dad came up to visit, the three of us would sit down together at the computer and test what he put together,” says Alice. “We just kept adding and revising, adding and revising, until the program finally did what we needed it to.”

Butch Cardinal, who operates Cardinal Brothers Hay Sales with his brother, Jim, and nephews, Steven Benkler and Andrew Venzke, decided to try the program. He figures it saves him several hours of office work each week.

“When an order is placed, it's put in the computer,” says Cardinal, who puts up more than 50,000 small bales and 1,200 rounds near Hugo, MN. “Then my nephews, who load the trailers, can just pull up a report and fill the order.”

He also uses the program to access yield reports. “It lets me know which fields are no longer productive.”

There's no limit to the number of fields, storage locations, lots, buyers and truckers HayTrack can hold, says Alice. It sells for $275 and runs on any modern Windows-based computer. For details or to request a free demonstration disc, call 402-538-2624 or visit www.haytrack.com.