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Business apps

DANIEL LOOKER 03/04/2013 @ 1:37pm Business Editor

Smartphones are being used more and more for crop production on farms. They're helpful for mapping, weed identification, and, of course, checking the weather.

The apps listed here can also extend your office into the field. Not all are strictly agricultural. Here are some of my own favorites, as well as several chosen by the Agriculture.com staff.

1. Market Journal 

This app tops my list. I'm a fan of the Market to Market TV show from Iowa Public Television. Market Journal, produced by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and UNL Extension, is just as good. Its MJ app is an informative compilation from its weekly TV shows, carried in your pocket. Crisp video clips feature national and regional authorities, Nebraska Extension experts, and smart farmers.

Recent videos had Ron Plain of the University of Missouri on hog prices, Frayne Olson of North Dakota State on grain markets, Dave Kohl of Virginia Tech on the land market asset bubble, and Brad Lubben, UNL policy specialist, on fiscal issues facing the 2013 farm bill. Tina Barrett, Nebraska Farm Business Inc. director, covered fiscal cliff 2013 tax changes in a three-part series.

Host Jeff Wilkerson visited Mike Briggs at his Seward, Nebraska, feedlot for reaction to Japan opening up to 30-month beef. He was on the farm of Nebraska's wise man of marketing, Roy Smith (who also writes for Successful Farming magazine and Agriculture.com). MJ offers end-of-day futures, Nebraska daily elevator prices, local weather in and out of state, and lots of Extension information. The Nebraska Soybean Board also supports Market Journal.

2. America's Economy 

This Census Bureau app reports key economic indicators: GDP, unemployment, trade balance, housing starts, and more. Why use a nonag app? Many economists and bankers believe that when the economy fully recovers, inflation and your interest rates will tick upward. Most reports also have graphs, as well as press releases and release dates. A separate calendar has all release dates. The reports also come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. An important disadvantage: the data sometimes loads slowly, at least on my iPhone.

If you really want to bury yourself in government economic data, you could also download the St. Louis Fed's app (available for Android OS phones and iPhones). It's called “FRED economic data” (not in the chart on page 68). None of the FRED data is ag related. I found a multiyear propane price chart. It has international monetary and economic data, including GDP charts from most countries. (Comparing GDP of Brazil and China to U.S. isn't pretty.) You can find the U.S. Consumer Price Index, as well.

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