Farmers are spending a lot more time with their smartphones and tablets thanks to a host of new apps designed to help with farm management. The growing field of agricultural technology allows farmers to track herd performance, calculate fertilizer ratios and ID crop pests, all with the flick of a finger on a touch screen.
These eight apps are the latest ag tech tools to help farmers improve production and increase revenues.
FarmLogs: The Michigan-based startup uses soil maps, rainfall statistics and other data to help farmers reduce waste and improve yields on row crops like corn, wheat and soybeans. The Web and mobile app, which bills itself as “the easiest way to make fields more profitable,” lets farmers use data to forecast profits, track expenses and crops, monitor weather and do risk management. FarmLogs has users in all 50 states and $11 billion in crops under management.
Farmeron: The cloud-based software allows dairy farmers to manage all aspects of operation, from tracking animal purchases and sales to collecting milking data. Once the information is recorded, the program provides real-time data on metrics ranging from the impact of feed quality on production to conception rates for cows. To date, more than 3,000 dairy farmers are using the app to manage 1 million head of cattle.
farmGRAZE: Developed by Aberystwyth University in Wales, this Android app helps farmers manage grazing pastures. By entering data about herd size, height of available grasses and amount of supplemental feed, farmers can calculate the amount of grass available and plot rotational grazing. Information generated by the app helps boost grazing efficiency; reduce feed, seed and fertilizer costs; and improve livestock growth rates and milk production.
MooMonitor: The average dairy cow is in heat for just 14 hours every 18 to 24 days, which gives farmers a limited window to breed stock. MooMonitor syncs data from heat-detection collars and alerts dairy farmers via text message when a cow is in heat. It can even draft cows into a separate holding pen after milking to improve breeding efficiency. The collars, which use accelerometers to monitor activity levels, can also alert farmers to sick cows. Data shows that the technology detects 88.6 percent of heats, making it the world’s most accurate monitor.
TankMix Calculator: Farmers enter acreage, tank size and carrier volume into this app and it calculates the correct mix of chemicals and number of loads required to spray fields. The app, created by DuPont Crop Protection, accepts metric or imperial units for more than 11,000 pesticides and lets users save and edit tank mixes, helping farmers generate a spray recipe for their crops and avoid overspraying.
TractorPal: Bid farewell to paper records for tractors and other agricultural equipment. This free app logs model year, purchase date and serial number for farm equipment ranging from tractors and trucks to mowers and sprayers. Farmers can track maintenance records like oil and filter changes and coolant levels. Records can be emailed or shared, and the Android version backs up to the cloud.
Dry Grain Calculator: After selecting one of nine grain crops, including corn, wheat or oats, farmers enter its initial weight and moisture percentage. The app calculates its weight at its optimal moisture percentage, giving farmers the data to decide whether to deliver the grain, blend loads to achieve optimal moisture levels or dry their grains. It also calculates potential losses from grain that is not at optimal moisture levels.
Ag PhD Field Guide: Got pests? The app contains descriptions and color photos of common weeds and insects that invade commercial crops. Scroll through the photos to identify an unknown pest or search by name to access recommendations for eradication. A list of key weeds and pests can be saved for quick reference. The app also incorporates agricultural news and podcasts on farming topics.
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Inset photo: USDA/flickr