9 apps you shouldn’t farm without

When it comes to apps offering farmers assistance around the farm, it’s a downloader’s market. There are countless services launching apps offering everything from assistance with figuring out the acreage in a particular area to forage identification or record keeping.

Knowing which ones are worth space on your home screen can be overwhelming, however. As particular types of apps become more popular, a number of copycat services are hitting the market, which makes it even more challenging to pinpoint the offerings that work best for each farmer. While you can always download and ditch an app later when its value comes up short, saving precious minutes experimenting with something that ends up as an empty promise can get frustrating.

Below are nine apps that put their digital money where their mouths are. All are free and available in Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Some include premium versions or in-app purchases.

1. FarmHand. A farm labor shortage is putting serious pressure on producers. This app is hoping to alleviate some of those challenges by connecting farm job seekers with farm job workers in lieu of relying on ads posted in diners or word of mouth. It features ratings and reviews and allows local workers to list their work experience. The app originated at Iowa State University’s Start-Up Factory in Ames, Iowa, and was developed by a farmer.

2. Ag Butler. Another app aiming to address the labor shortage, Ag Butler markets itself as being similar to a ride-sharing service. It describes its service as creating a network of experienced ag laborers in real-time that can be filtered by location, ratings, work experience, availability, and more. Labor is divided into three categories: livestock, crops, and transportation. The app also offers a secure payment system. The platform will be available by late summer/early fall 2020.

3. AgFuse. Enjoy social media but prefer to keep it focused on farming or connect with other farmers? Developed by a South Carolina farmer, AgFuse is a social media networking platform dedicated to farmers and agriculture professionals. With over 4,000 members on the platform to date, it provides an opportunity to share resources, advertise events, crowdsource hacks for farming problems, and features articles about a variety of topics like cover crops and understanding mycorrhizae.

4. Open Range. Facebook may be farmers’ favorite social media platform, but it recently cracked down on advertisements for the sale of animals. Even if some producers aren’t using the platform to sell stock, they may be less inclined to make their operations public in the face of what some view as increasing public scrutiny over agricultural production. This led one Arkansas cattle producer to create a dedicated platform for selling and buying livestock as well as equipment. It also allows users to post job openings and handmade goods for sale. Part of the app’s goal is to allow farmers to connect and openly converse with like-minded producers by sharing advice and gaining friends.

5. Tractor Zoom. Not ready to drop a huge stack of cash on new equipment? Tractor Zoom is trying to take the needle-in-a-haystack work out of finding used farm equipment. Auctioneers create accounts on the platform and list equipment for sale. Farmers enter the specific equipment that they’re hunting for and can instantly search every auction on the site. It allows users to create auction alerts if what they’re after isn’t for sale at that specific time. There are over 250 farm equipment auction companies currently registered on the platform. A farmer came up with the concept while working with a farmland private equity group and attempting to buy equipment for his own farm.

6. Farmland Finder. Catching farmland for sale before someone else beats you to the scoop is a fast-paced game in most rural areas. Many farm properties aren’t listed in traditional databases, relying on roadside signage or word of mouth to complete the sale. Farmland Finder is hoping to modernize and equalize the farm buying game. Buyers can sign up to use the site free of charge to browse listings or purchase a premium service that provides access to information about comparable sales, soil mapping, satellite imagery analysis, and yield-related data. This means sellers may have to be more transparent about their acreage’s value and that buyers may have to cough up the true value of a premium piece of land. It also neutralizes some of the awkwardness or hurt feelings that can happen when an owner chooses to sell to one neighbor over another. A fifth-generation farmer came up with the concept when his family attempted to purchase nearby land for its dairy operation.

7. Take Action. Herbicide-resistant weeds are becoming a major yield-robbing challenge for farmers. The app lets users diversify herbicide protocols to prevent resistant weeds from spreading by entering the sites of action they are already using and browsing a list of others that can be used to help diversify. The app is part of a larger project sponsored by the Take Action project and the United Soybean Board to provide farmers with science-backed resources to help improve pest management decisions with an eye toward the future. The app has a companion website: IWillTakeAction.com.

8. Cool Farm Tool. Interested in participating in a carbon credit market to get paid for practices like cover cropping? Wondering whether cover cropping will improve your soil productivity? The Cool Farm Tool is an online greenhouse gas, water, and biodiversity calculator for farmers. It can quantify the effect of different farm management practices providing the user with an objective way to gain recognition or premium payments for using certain practices or to assess whether a new practice is worth scaling up farm-wide. To use, farmers input readily available information like the total area of the farm, information about crop- protection management and soil cultivation, and the estimated area of habitats like watercourses, ponds, and hedgerows. The Cool Alliance website also offers a user guide providing tips and advice on how to use the tool and interpret the results.

9. Farm Dog. Keeping track of scouting data can be a nightmare especially if multiple parties are involved in the process. With a customizable scouting functionality, Farm Dog connects soil information, aerial imagery, and allows users to communicate with Extension agents on one platform. It also provides a method for recording in-field observations to improve team communication and features full John Deere Operations Center integration. No internet connection? No problem. The platform works on phones and tablets both offline and online. A monthly subscription fee applies, but users can pay month to month. There is also a free tier for users who simply want an organized, digital solution for their scouting notes.  

Have an app you’d recommend to other farmers? Please email your nomination to us at agonline@agriculture.com.

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