Agriculture in the digital age: Yes, there’s an app for that

farm-droughtWhen you think of farming tools, you may think of tractors, cultivators, combines and other heavy equipment. In today’s digital age, a farmer is just as likely to be using another tool—an agricultural app on his or her smartphone or tablet to help grow crops or monitor livestock.

Virginia farmers are using mobile apps for everything from creating production records and searching machinery part catalogs to calculating seeding rates and calving dates,” said Tony Banks, assistant director of commodity marketing for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

“As the use of smartphones and tablets becomes more entrenched, so does the development and use of agricultural mobile applications,” Banks noted. “A generation or two ago, a farmer applying pesticides would have likely used a cardboard slide rule or calculator to determine application volume and speed, nozzle type and size. Today, that task can be accomplished with an app. Electronic recordkeeping for crop and livestock production can now be done on the go without the need to re-enter or upload data back at the office.”

Hundreds of apps have sprouted up to help farmers with efficiency, productivity and record-keeping. There are apps for field crops, like Extreme Beans, which help calculate the most effective seeding rates to generate the best soybean yields. Livestock apps like GESDATE enable hog farmers to track their litters and individual pigs from conception to sale day. Dairy farmers can use Pro Dairy Event for data on herds or individuals cows, as well as to set reminders for vet calls and other tasks.

An app called Stink Bug Scout helps farmers assess the stink bug population in their fields and apply appropriate pest control. And the FarmFan app helps drives traffic to a farmer’s booth at a farmers’ market or to an on-farm retail market and includes a customer reward program.

Other apps deal with poultry flock management, frost alarms and other weather conditions, grazing, soil conditions, weed identification, feed rationing, irrigation system monitoring and agricultural auctions.

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