PATH is tracking your spuds (and everything else on your farm) from field to store.

Running a potato farm isn’t easy. Keeping track of all those spuds and other farm details can be a time consuming and messy process in some cases. With PATH from WSA Solutions though, it makes those tasks easier.

“There’s so much information flowing these days from so many sources, you have to be able to store it, and then at some point regurgitate it for compliance and regulatory reasons. And so, we need to make that easy, and that’s our job,” Feije De Boer, business manager for PATH, explains in a phone interview.

Feije De Boer
Feije De Boer, business manager for PATH

PATH is a farm management software that’s purpose built for the potato industry. It allows growers to track everything on their farms from crates of potatoes and equipment maintenance, to crop scouting during the growing season.

The product was developed based on input from growers. It was originally created about 15 years ago by WSA Solutions after they were asked by a potato grower for a farm management system. The first iteration was expensive and hard to update, but it showed promise.

“I used to use the old version on a potato farm I worked on. I thought this is cool, this is a good idea, potentially not as well executed as it could be. There’s a lot there. It was old technology, it just wasn’t very flexible,” De Boer says.

The opportunity was then presented to buy it. De Boer reached out to his friend Stanley De Boer and the two acquired the company. The two set about updating and upgrading the system. They completely overhauled it making for a less expensive and easier to update model.

The PATH farm management software is online and can be accessed on any device with an internet connection. It has different modules which potato growers can buy and use. The modules focus on various aspects of the farm from equipment maintenance to crop production tracking.

PATH scanner
A scanner is used to scan a QR code for tracking with PATH. Photo: PATH

The system uses QR codes that are printed off and stuck to equipment or crates of potatoes, the codes are scanned and all information about the item is then displayed. Labels can also be printed off and stuck to potato shipments.

The team at PATH is constantly updating and adding new modules. They listen to growers’ suggestions and are open to developing new features to address the different needs of clients, De Boer adds.

One of the farms PATH has worked with since the start is G Visser & Sons. The fresh potato packing operation in Orwell Cove, P.E.I. was one of the users of the original system and has since upgraded to the new system.

“There was a mutual connection between some of the developers, ourselves and another farm, where we all saw the need for software to help manage our business — specifically production and sales. PATH was built to help us manage these aspects more efficiently,” Adam Jay, operations manager at G Visser & Sons, explains in a phone interview.

The farm uses several PATH modules. They manage their bulk and box storage inventories with it. When washing plants, PATH helps them keep track of grower orders — throughout the wash process they’ll do quality checks, and at the end they’re able to deliver a full report to growers. PATH is also used to print pallet tags, and track sales, packaging, inventory, and shipping logistics.

PATH potato packaging plant
A potato packaging plant where PATH is used to track inventory. Photo: PATH

The original PATH system was quite expensive. It would initially cost about $60,000 and then any time a customization was added it would cost $100 per hour to develop the customization. The new system is cost effective with no initial upfront cost and a monthly subscription of $200 to $3,000, depending on the operation scale and modules used. Costs can increase if scanners or label printers are purchased, but QR codes can also be scanned using phones and tablets.

PATH is available across Canada and even into the United States. In Canada it can be used for CanadaGAP and Canadian Food Inspection Agency certificates. PATH isn’t just for potatoes though — fruit growers have also used it.

Header photo — The PATH modules can be viewed using a tablet. Photo: PATH

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Ashley Robinson was raised on a mixed cattle and grain farm in southwestern Manitoba. She attended the University of Regina where she studied journalism. Following university, she has spent the better part of the past decade writing about agriculture in publications across Canada and internationally. Robinson’s agriculture writing has covered topics from rural issues to commodity markets. Since joining Seed World Group her work has focused on covering all aspects of the Canadian potato industry from planting to farm management, and agriculture in Alberta focusing on how the seed industry connects to farmer’s daily lives.