Agriculture is a challenging industry that seems to get more challenging season after season.
However, it’s a career Michael Schaeffer is passionate about.
“Something just kind of sparked and I just kind of picked up on it. I love it, and I’ve been in the field ever since,” said founder of the Farm Hand app Michael Schaeffer.
It can mean long hours and few holidays off, there’s also reward in seeing the work pay off.
Schaeffer said, “You work around great people all the time, and it’s always something different. You’re never doing the same thing every day.”
Schaeffer stays busy working at Park Farms Computer Systems in DeWitt.
Schaeffer said, “Precision ag specialists, we work with like GPS and auto-steer systems for tractors, specialized planting systems for planters and then obviously we do all our farming as well.”
However, the next evolution to the farm Schaeffer is introducing doesn’t come lumbering in like massive tractors.
Schaeffer said, “One day I was out working, just like you know, it would be really helpful if we had an extra hand or two.”
On screens found in almost every pocket, it’s a touch away.
“Struggle is trying to find help when we need it. Just the same kind of thing if you’re bailing hay, working with livestock, I mean trucking. There’s endless amounts of work, and there’s always certain times of the year that you actually need the help, but if you don’t know the right people, you can’t find it,” said Schaeffer.
Park Farms Computer Systems farmer Justin Stolk said, “There’s not as many people looking for that kind of work as there used to be or just not as many capable people for that kind of field.”
Because how finding workers has been done…
Stolk said, “Farmhands were always filled by word of mouth.”
Isn’t what it used to be.
“If you can’t find help, it slows down the operation and when it comes to our busy seasons, you know, there’s not enough time in the day,” said Schaeffer.
This week, the time finally came to put the app Farm Hand on the market.
Schaeffer said, “That’s kind of why we made this completely free app is so it can kind of target everybody.”
It’s meant as a single point for farmers to post work and farmhands to see where they can find the jobs.
And farmers Michael works with see this preserving and maintaining crucial resources because often time these hires aren’t weeks or months out.
Stolk said, “Whether you’re the one posting the job or looking for work, doesn’t take a lot of time.”
Schaeffer said some of the earlier users have been able to find help in just a few hours after posting in the app.
It removes another hurdle of knowing who to reach out for these farm jobs.
“Growing up in an agricultural community, a lot of kids had side jobs working for farmers making side money here and there. Baling hay and stuff like that,” said Schaeffer. “You couldn’t really keep yourself busy unless you knew the right contacts, the right people.”
Solving the laboring for labor in an already challenging industry by hitting install.
Schaeffer said, “Every year gets more difficult in agriculture in general.”
Schaeffer said it took about 15 months from idea to launch to develop Farm Hand.
He worked with an app developer to build the app and run the beta tests.