Farming Technology: Mobile Apps, Precision Ag, Cloud, and Social Media
Posted by: Todd Kamp on Jan 12, 2018 3:15:27 PM
Farming is in no way left behind when it comes to the digital innovations that rapidly change how we interact with the world and everything we do.
In fact, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture reports that farms today are much different than a few decades ago thanks to advancements in technology.
“Social media platforms are routinely used by the modern farmer for business purposes. YouTube, for instance, can be a source of information for services and products for the farm,” says Dominique Brossard, professor and chair in the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin.
“More importantly, farming technologies available on smartphones offer many benefits for farmers,” she adds. “Examples are numerous, ranging from making accurate nutrients plans to soliciting advice in real time from advisors.”
As we know, tech and new farming technology is a massive subject, but we can share a few highlights here. Let’s take a topline look on where we are in the world of crop production mobile apps, precision technologies, cloud services and social media.
FARM MOBILE APPS
As with any interest area, there is no shortage of farm-related mobile apps out there, usable on tablet, phone or other device. However, here are just a few popular ones geared toward harvest.
The Grain Moisture App was developed by a farm couple, and according to a Grainnews.ca article, it helps users make decisions about when to combine, how to store the crop, and it improves on the traditional use of charts.
FarmLogs and Grower’s Edge offer many farming management app functions for use in planning, budgeting, and inventory. Users can track rainfall or degree days, prices and market quotes, or display maps with data collected and shown by field.
Ag PhD App Suite states that it provides several farm solutions, including those that cover issues like harvest loss, corn diseases, fertilizer removal, nutrient deficiencies, and drainage.
The days of applying pesticides, water and fertilizer uniformly across entire fields are long gone. According to ag economist David Schimmelpfennig and his USDA-published article, Precision Agriculture leverages technologies such as GPS, infrared aerial imaging, yield and soil monitoring maps, and variable-rate input application technologies, or VRT.
These innovations can help growers observe, measure, and respond to conditions more accurately and specifically.
Farmers might save money, time, and hassles by reducing misapplication, by improving seeding, and by tracking changing conditions and relating them to production practices.
Farmers Edge is a tech company that provides its Precision Solutions package that features a bundle of data gathering and analysis functions, leveraging VRT, satellite imagery, weather monitoring and more. The product enables farmers to make decisions in advance that boost productivity, cut costs and improve operations.
Simply put, the cloud is a software and data storage solution that is provided by an outside party offsite, yet that’s accessible by internet. No more do users need to have software, servers and storage devices in their workplace.
With that, the cloud enables access to ever-changing software that is always current without the need to update it ourselves.
In a presentation to the ASABE Annual International Meeting, authors describe how they successfully used cloud-based Trello for general bookkeeping, input application tracking, grain hauling and accounting, as well as farm equipment maintenance and parts inventory.
As with numerous technologies that work for farming or with other disciplines, social media platforms are no different. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest have friends and followers in the ag world, and users can post messages, photos, and announcements.
Twitter, of course, is more strongly geared toward snippets of late-breaking news and information.
However, if any of this seems foreign, newcomers can search online for the AgChat Foundation, home to farmers helping farmers get accustomed to, and up to speed on, using social media.
There is so much yet to be seen as far as new ag technologies go, based in part on the upcoming Z Generation of post-Millennials maturing into the business of farming. This age group has grown up on the internet and won’t rely on paperwork to solve agribusiness challenges.
There is much innovation available now, and as specific needs in agriculture continue to develop, so will the technologies that help solve those very needs.