Do you have a disdain for paperwork? Then you’re going to like Lukas Fricke.
This young entrepreneur has developed a system that tracks farm chores so you have a permanent record of where you and your workers were, when, and what you did. And you won’t have to write any of it down on paper.
“I don’t like paperwork, so ChorChek solves a problem for people like me,” says Fricke, a sixth-generation hog and crop farmer working with his brother, Brenden, in Ulysses, Nebraska.
ChorChek is a digital platform that typically works off of your mobile phone. It follows the major quality assurance systems already in place.
Think of it this way: Because of your phone’s location services, it knows where you are all the time. When you go into a building to check on the pigs, ChorChek records it using blockchain technology. First used to track the flow of money between banks, blockchain links things together by a sort of fingerprint, Fricke says. “Your mobile phone serves as a beacon for activity.”
If you move a group of pigs or fill feeders or repair a fence, ChorChek records it. “With ChorChek, I can show customers I was in the barn for a certain amount of time every day, doing all the things we do to assure quality care,” he explains.
The system can set it up three ways: with your phone on you personally, with your tablet in your vehicle if you don’t like to carry it into the barn, or with a tablet unit that sits inside a barn.
The first part of ChorChek is a hardware component that authenticates your presence in buildings, pens, or fields. It connects your phone or tablet to a BarnHub device that “listens” for you or other employees (and any unwanted visitors).
The second part is ChekPoint, which records your physical presence when you touch it. “We install it as far away from the building entrance as possible. You have to walk past all the animals to verify you were there that day,” he says.
If an animal is sick or a piece of equipment is broken, you can log that by dictation or text.
ChorChek, Fricke thinks, could be useful in tracking a disease outbreak. “It will have all of the steps where animals moved, who had contact with them, and how they were treated. Paper systems are not quick enough for a disease traceback,” he says.
It can also be useful in assigning chores and making sure they get done on time, especially when employees change or are on vacation.
Because Fricke’s farm has hogs, the early application of ChorChek is in that area. But it will easily transfer to any agricultural enterprise where such records are important, he says.
The cost will be a subscription fee based on the volume of animals or commodities and the level of data needed. Fricke says it will be relatively low for basic services, and he prefers that interested producers contact him about pricing.
ChorChek will bring supply chain transparency, Fricke says, as more consumers and grocers demand it. He also knows not all farmers will embrace such transparency.
“It’s coming whether you like it or not,” he says. “We in agriculture should design systems that work for us, rather than having something forced on us. ChorChek is from a farmer for farmers.”
About the Company
Headquarters: Ulysses, Nebraska
Founder: Lukas Fricke
Background: ChorChek is a digital, paperless system that records chores and activities on a farm to refer to later for quality assurance purposes.
Funding: This start-up was initially nurtured at the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It won the $20,000 grand prize at the Ag Innovation Pitch Competition during the 2018 Nebraska Power Farming Show.