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Put mobile technology to use on your farm

Spend more time in the field and less time at a desk with the use of mobile technology, Cloud computing and agriculture-geared apps

The next time your combine is making an unfamiliar tickety tickety noise, don’t call your machinery repairman – send them a video message so they can see and hear the problem, farmers attending Ag Days in Brandon were told last month.

Today’s mobile technology is a perfect fit for farmers. The ability to access business and agronomic resources while on the move has enabled producers to spend more time in the field and less time in the office chair.

“A lot of these mobile tools were not created for the ag industry but it’s up to us to be thinking, how we can use this for our purposes,” said Peter Gredig, as he addressed an audience during a seminar on the use of mobile technology.

Gredig is a mobile technology specialist from AgNition Inc., a Canadian company dedicated to producing mobile technology for the agriculture industry.

“This technology has really evolved and it doesn’t matter what you have — iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry — it’s how you use it. All of these devices are amazing tools and it is up to us to figure out how we can best use them in our operations.”

Along with discussing a number of the latest apps geared toward the industry, Gredig spoke on how to get more from your smartdevice and different functions the technology can perform that save farmers time.

“A tablet is so much more useful than all of those monitors in tractor cabs. Fairly recently, ag companies have started moving away from selling in-cab monitors to rather utilize producers’ tablets and smartphones as the monitors.”

Even without downloading additional applications, Gredig notes that these devices come with a number of gadgets that are handy to farmers in the field, such as the flashlight, protractor, compass, speedometer and level.

“Many of us still think of these devices as phones that can do other things, whereas in reality they are incredible mobile tool boxes that include a phone. The industry certainly needs to be aware of and understand the power of real-time audio and video communication.

“If you don’t use these video communication apps, you are really missing the boat. Say you have something in your field that you see and you don’t know what to do about it. Sure, you can take a picture, GPS the location and email it but you could also video-call your agronomist,” said Gredig, suggesting use of the Facetime and Skype apps.

“If you were to Facetime your agronomist, they would be able to see exactly what you are dealing with at that moment. As an industry, we need to start doing this.”

Many of these modern-day devices also offer voice recognition or Bluetooth software. Employing these features on your device can be a time saver and increase your safety.

“When we look back at the advancement of this technology, it is not going to be these cool little apps that make life easier for us, it is going to be how we gather our data, store and manage it,” said Gredig.

According to Gredig, the real valuable feature of mobile technology is in the use of Cloud computing‚ — the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage and process data — rather than a local server or personal computer.

Gredig relates the Cloud to a virtual filing cabinet that allows you to store data on the Internet and access it with the security of a password.

“The liberation and freedom of the Cloud means that you don’t worry about the basement flooding, a fire or hard drive crashes, because as you are generating data it is wirelessly and immediately being stored.”

About the author

Reporter

Jennifer Paige is a reporter centred in southwestern Manitoba. She previously wrote for the agriculture-based magazine publisher, Issues Ink and was the sole-reporter at the Minnedosa Tribune for two years prior to joining the Manitoba Co-operator.

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