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More smartphones go to the field this spring

Whenever Minnesota farmer Dave Revier takes to the field this spring, it’s certain he’ll have a smart phone in hand. In fact, he’ll have two of them--one for general use, and another in the cab to help steer his tractor.

Revier uses a phone with GPS and a Windows-based system that receives an RTK signal to guide his tractor to an accuracy of two inches. He uses a newer Android for a wide set of applications, including for jobs like creating Excel spreadsheets.

“The phone can do anything a computer can do,” he says. “It’s a mini-computer.”

More and more farmers are using smart phones, according to a 2011 survey by Successful Farming magazine. In its latest poll of members, 43% of farmers with a mobile phone said they own smart phone.  That’s a higher adoption rate than the general public. About one third of all mobile phone users in the U.S. own smart phones, according to Nielsen.

Farmers are using smart phones for a wide range of applications. Beyond calling, among the most popular features are texting, Internet access, and camera use, according to the Successful Farming survey.

Wireless bridging, tweeting field reports, and conducting searches are other popular uses, members of the social media group, Farmers for the Future, say.

Michael Lewis, a central Iowa farmer and computer systems operator, sees smart phones as the wave of the future for farm communications. Currently, he uses his phone to access weather, news, sports, maps, weather, stock reports and special farm-related applications.

He sees potential for the devices to house a wide range of ag applications, including real-time soil sampling and mapping, instant fertilizer analysis, chemical and seed quick conversions, weed identification, a farmer knowledge base, and more.



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