Spring SmartTour

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    A Spring 'SmartTour'

    Today's mobile technology, namely smartphones, offer an immense number of possible uses and functions for farmers. Follow along as the Agriculture.com team tours spring field conditions using smartphones to do a lot of the work for them.

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    Agriculture.com's Justin Davey uses his iPhone GPS to find the first farm of the tour. The GPS function allows the user to 'drop a pin' on a location, then track your progress toward your destination, a nice feature when traveling in rural areas.

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    Reporting tool

    Davey also uses his iPhone to record interviews, take notes and shoot photos while out in the field. This spring, he's covering planting progress solely with his smartphone.

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    Improving field conditions

    "It's pretty dry," says Agriculture.com's Jeff Caldwell of this corn field rowing northeast of Des Moines.

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    Catching up

    "We're planting beans like crazy," says Grant Kimberley, Story County, Iowa. "We're still behind, but working hard to catch up." Kimberley hopes to plant 400 acres of soybeans today.

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    Corn pops

    The corn's popping out of the ground in northern Polk County in central Iowa, where soil conditions are firming up after wet conditions earlier in May and the latter half of April.

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    Race against Mother Nature

    Though the Kimberleys have caught up on planting over the last week, they were running hard Wednesday morning to try to get ahead of the rainfall that's expected in central Iowa starting Thursday and through the weekend.

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    Dry on top, soft below

    Grant Kimberley was planting soybeans Wednesday morning in this field in southern Story County, Iowa. While the top 2 inches of the soil is dry and firm, it's not hard to find the moisture not far from the soil's surface.

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    Catching up

    Grant Kimberley says he's had better planting conditions in the last week, which has allowed him to make up for lost planting time earlier this spring.

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    Better beans

    Kimberley says he's planting about 2/3 corn and 1/3 soybeans this year. He's looking to resistant hybrids and rotating acres to try to keep ahead of soybean cyst nematode and sudden death syndrome in his beans this year.

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    Damp down below

    Grant Kimberley chips the mud off his planter between trips in the field. Though the soil appears dry on the top, the moisture's not far below the surface.

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    Talking traits

    Agrisure Viptera, a new insect control trait from Syngenta, is the hot new product in the field this spring, says Bruce Battles, Syngenta Seeds marketing manager.

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    'A touch on the wet side'

    Woodward, Iowa, farmer Marty Orr chats with Agriculture.com's Justin Davey. "It's just a touch on the wet side, but it's working. It's time to go, with rain coming in at the end of the week," Orr said Wednesday, when he was around 30% finished with soybean planting. He finished corn planting earlier this week.

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    'The most boring job on the farm'

    Kody Kokemiller, along with his cowdog Tess, takes a break between fill-ups at the edge of the field. Kokemillers were planting seed corn Wednesday, and Kody was in charge of filling the row units with seed at each row, or "the most boring job on the farm," he said.

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    Data on the farm

    New information technology tools -- especially smartphones and other mobile devices -- will play a huge role in the business of farming as the next generation gets into the industry, says Bayard, Iowa, farmer and IT specialist Michael Lewis. "As the younger generation gets into farming, I think people are going to find that we like data, we want it right now, and we want it on the devices we use," Lewis says.

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    'Check your stands'

    Alison Robertson, Iowa State University plant pathologist advises farmers to pay special attention to seedling diseases this spring, given the cool, wet conditions. "Do stand counts and decide if a replant is needed," she says. "You can use seed treatments and change hybrids, but the only thing to really decide is to replant or not."

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