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'All about communication'

Jeff Caldwell 07/28/2011 @ 3:19pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Whether you use an older "feature phone" or a top-of-the-line smartphone, the basic goal is the same.

"It's about basic communication," LoadOut Technologies founder and Indiana farmer Neil Mylet told the 2011 class of the FFA New Century Farmer (NCF) program at the group's annual meetup at the campus of Pioneer Hi-Bred in Johnston, Iowa, on Wednesday. The event is co-sponsored by Successful Farming magazine.

Most of the NCF participants who said they use smartphones -- about a third of the total group of around 50 young farmers -- most said the ability to access market information and share photos and information quickly are the main reasons they've adopted the devices.

"Agriculture gets a reputation of being old-school or not knowing how to operate technology like that," added Ashlie Kolb, a TV host and member of Mylet's Loadout Technologies team. "Today, that's not true."

When it comes to making buying decisions on smartphones, like many of the NCF participants said they're weighing right now, Mylet said it's all about finding the device with which you're most comfortable and one that accomplishes everything you need. Right now, for example, though his company develops applications for the latest iPhone and Android platforms, Mylet said he uses an older Blackberry phone for his farm, as it meets his current data needs. But, like many consumers, those needs are changing.

"I think what you'll find is that this technology will have an influence on every aspect of our lives," he said. "Everybody can relate to what farmers do. Farmers use [smartphones] for actual business stuff, whereas most people use them for mostly leisure."

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