Gadgets on the farm

Jeff Caldwell 01/26/2011 @ 1:49pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Almost half of those responding to a recent Agriculture.com poll say the next tech gadget they plan to buy will either be a smartphone or a tablet computer. These tools can help you stay wired in your tractor cab in the field. But can they do more?

More farmers are starting to use smartphones and tablets not just as communication devices, but also as tools to help monitor and control specific machinery and equipment operations on the farm.

Central Illinois farmer Colby Hunt is using his Apple iPad as a second set of eyes on his farm.

“We can monitor our old grain dryer over the Internet with the iPad via cameras on the displays,” says Hunt.

Monsanto spokeswoman and blogger Janice Person says she’s seeing more farmers use smartphones to do a lot more than just make and take calls. Newer software applications can help farmers accomplish more data-intensive jobs, like keeping track of cattle herd data and controlling center-pivot irrigation systems.

What’s next? Look for future apps to do a whole lot more, says Nathan Faleide, spokesman for Agri ImaGIS Technologies, a Fargo, North Dakota-based ag GPS and GIS software maker.

“Some new smartphones are 10 times more powerful than the controller in the tractor cab. Any tablet computer that uses an app could run all the controls of your tractor through your smartphone, in theory,” he says.

To join the conversation about smartphones and tablet computers on the farm go to www.agriculture.com/computers

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