Expert says think of a smartphone as a computer in your coveralls

\Smartphone usage across Canada continues to rise and now has a 40 per cent share of the mobile phone market, according to a a recent Ipsos Reid poll.

And farmers are just as likely as anyone to be carrying an iPhone, BlackBerry or Android as anyone else these days. But many just aren’t making full use of that little computer in their coveralls, says Kim Keller, founder of Farm at Hand.

Keller and her co-founder, Himanshu Singh will be presenting “How are you using your smartphone on the farm?” on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

“A lot of people aren’t really aware of what their smartphone can do for them,” says Keller. “It can be used for just about anything from communications, to news, to market prices, weather or keeping track of your production or finances. There is almost an app for everything.”

Keller and Singh, who are also exhibiting their mobile technology at Ag Days, have developed their own free Farm at Hand management software, which is available as an app for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad Tablet and also has a mobile site for BlackBerry and Android devices. The software allows farmers to keep track of field lists, storage, equipment, contracts and many other items vital to farm operations.

The number of apps directly aimed at the farming community has grown tremendously over the past year, says Keller, who predicts that’s a trend that isn’t going to change.

“Right now there are a lot of agricultural companies that are realizing that they need a mobile strategy and they need to address this market that I don’t think a lot of companies have addressed,” says Keller.

“So I think in the next few years we are going to be seeing a lot of companies coming out with their own apps specifically for farmers.”

Smartphones definitely have a role to play in helping farms become more productive and efficient, she says.

“Your farming community 20 years ago may have been within a 50- or 100-mile radius,” says Keller. “But with technology, your community has become global and you need to know what’s happening everywhere when you are planning all aspects of your production.”

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