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Making mobile work

Jeff Caldwell 03/17/2011 @ 9:22am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Corn and soybean harvest was a slow, challenging affair for Flavio Neitzke in southern Brazil. But he didn't waste time waiting for the frequent rainfall to dry out between harvest days. He stayed on top of business from his phone.

“I receive texts from our farmer cooperative,” says Neitzke, who is helping his father get adjusted to new smartphone technology on their family's farm. “The cooperative keeps me informed on grain prices.”

Last year saw more producers begin to use additional digital technology, according to farmers on the South American leg of the 2011 Crop Tech Tour. And as adoption grows, so does the number of available applications. The next challenge is to avoid app overkill by finding the right tools for your businesses and keeping those apps accessible and ready to use at any time.

“I have about 400 apps on my phone, and I probably use 10 of them,” says Daniel Ori, a marketing specialist with Precision Laboratories, the maker of the iPhone app Mix Tank. The app is designed to help farmers and chemical applicators determine the right mixing orders and combinations of farm chemicals.

But even the best smartphone is no good if you don't have service, and it's inevitable in some rural areas. That's why one important thing to look for in a mobile application is the amount of data it requires to operate, Ori says.

“We shoot to be very light on the data transfer,” he says. “That's a big benefit in low-service areas.” 

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