The Agriculture.com SmartTour (full story) this week gave me a chance to learn a little more about what’s happening with the whole smart phone revolution out on the land. While our recent online poll of farmers showed that adoption of the devices in ag is growing fast, there’s some ground truth to be had in the countryside these days, too.
Pretty much everyone we visited in the field was toting a smart phone—and putting it to good use. For the tour, our staff, including editor Justin Davey (photo), used only iPhones to record interviews, take pictures, shoot video, record notes, and even navigate from farm to farm.
On one of the tour stops, we rode along with Kelley Kokemiller, a Boone County, Iowa farmer, who was planting seed corn about as fast as he could, given the rain in the forecast. The long day in the tractor cab was relieved with use of his iPhone. Kelley's phone was resting right alongside the steering wheel, within easy reach. He was keeping up with the markets and weather, as well as texting his wife and daughters.
Michael Lewis, an internet technology expert as well as a farmer, is keen on how agribusinesses and information providers should be supplying farmers data. "As the younger generation gets into farming, I think people are going to find that we like data, we want it right now, and we want it on the devices we use," he told us.
Lewis has ideas on creating new apps for use on his farm. Meantime, he’s a heavy user of features like Drop Box. Dropbox for the iPhone and iPad lets you carry along your files, videos and photos while you’re on the go, view them offline and easily share them with people. Other applications he mentioned using were MyRadar, Flashlight, Notes, a level and an app for drawing field boundaries, all just part of his toolkit packed in a phone.
Bruce Battles, an agronomist for Syngenta Seeds, told us about an idea for a smart phone app he'd like to develop that would be right along the lines of what Lewis is looking for--a fast, easy way to access seed data.
This morning I tweeted back and forth with Cory Ritter, an Illinois farmer, who was keeping tabs on the world from the cab of his JD 9520. While autosteering along, Cory was using his smart phone to track the markets, among other things. “I just try to read as much market stuff as possible and make my own decisions. More info the better. I love my iPhone," he wrote.
I do, too.
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