Canadian Farmers Go Mobile

By Shaun Haney

Who spends less time at a desk than farmers. One of the advantages of farming is the ability to be outside in the elements growing crops and being stewards of the environment. Farming has become a much more complex career in the last 15 years where they need access to information and analysis at their fingertips.  With the advent of the smartphone many tasks that had to be done at a desk can now be down from the tractor or pickup truck.  When I talk about using mobile apps in agriculture, I’m not talking about Angry Birds or The Score.  We are talking about apps that provide the ability for the user to be more productive and efficient in their common business tasks or more informed based on more timely information.

Having said this the smartphone is still a very underused technology as many people still only use the device for phone calls, facebook and text messaging instead of using it for it’s full capabilities.  As time moves on, this under use will diminish as more people are exposed to the productivity benefits of using applicable apps in their your business.   SEE MORE BELOW

Get information on Dekalb app

Get information on the Genuity app

Get information on Syngenta Mobile

Sara Sutherland, Syngenta discusses Syngenta Mobile and what benefits they feel that it provides to growers.

If you cannot see the below embedded video, click here

Denice Hockaday, Dekalb Marketing Manager, Eastern Canada discusses their new mobile app and how farmers are using mobile technology.

If you cannot see the below embedded video, click here

In other industries many people use apps on their iTouches, iPhones and Blackberry’s to become more productive through calculators like Dekalb’s or get news and information like Syngenta’s mobile site mentioned above in the interviews.  Besides the two examples that I have just given there are many non-ag apps that will have great benefits to farmers as they get exposed to them more in the future.

Farming is one of the occupations that lends itself to reliance on mobile technology in the future.  I really think that we will see agriculture as one of the industries in Canada that will truly engage in mobile technology.  Farmers love technology, they love innovation and mobile is both.  Personally I am a lover of mobile apps.  I have many apps on on my iPad and Blackberry that I use everyday at work.   These devices are not just for facebook and playing games.  There is significant productivity and informational gains to be made when your smartphone is utilized to its full potential.

Try out the apps and mobile sites mentioned above and let us know what you think.

Are they useful?

Will you use them?

What are your favourite business type apps that you use on the farm?

Do you think mobile apps have  a fit on the farm?

 

Shaun Haney

Shaun grew up on a family seed farm in Southern Alberta. Haney Farms produces, conditions and retails wheat, barley, canola and corn seed. Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. @shaunhaney

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11 Comments

Philip Shaw

Smart phones are too expensive in Canada especially for most farmers. In fact the costs are most like extortion and could be better used on other things. I don’t have a smartphone, don’t want one. I’d ask this question. Of all the smartphones you see, how many people that own them, actually pay the bill? I would bet most of them you see, especially in agriculture are paid from by corporations who employ the smartphone owners. From a farm perspective, I think they are a tiny niche product, and a very expensive one. If the cost was to decline to a point where it is with other countries, everybody might have one. However, in Canada, we’re not there. We’re not even close.

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Shaun Haney

Extortion???? Philip come on. You can get a blackberry or iphone for $200 dollars. Thats not extortion…..thats called value based on the end use capabilities. A phone is no longer just to make calls. Its a productivity management device that allows you to be more effective. Enjoy reading and replying to all you emails from home and not while you are on the go when you have some time.

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Rick Taillieu, ACPC

We have seen a steady adoption of smartphones by farmers in Alberta over he last few years. We launched a mobile version of our website that has proven very popular with growers – they want simple and fast access to the canola futures. It doesn’t need to be complicated app – just quality information for the small screens with a shortcut to get their fast. Check out http://m.canola.ab.ca and get the yellow flower shortcut for instant access.

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Philip Shaw

Extortion….obviously $200 is not extortion, its the monthly fees of $100 plus. That’s the extortion part. Other countries have wireless costs much cheaper than here. Even in Bangladesh where I visit often, smartphones are everywhere, I phoned back from Canada talked 15 minutes from St.Martin’s Island with no electricity and the total cost was less than $1 Can. Can you imagine that in Canada? Not in a million years. Smartphones in my mind are too costly, you could easily pay for a basic lightbar guidance system in a tractor for the monthly cost of a smartphone. Let’s be honest here. Smartphone boosters in Canadian agr never talk about the monthly fees and many don’t pay the bills themselves. Until the gouging stops in Canada for wireless, we’ll never have the uptake we should have. When talking about smartphones in Canadian agriculture, that gouging by wireless companies should always be mentioned.

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greg

we switched 7 lines to iphones for our farm. it is amazing that the email inbox doesn’t fill up and you dont have to check it at midnight when your in for the night. unless there is a message that requires a lot of work. also the bars of service improved, and our bill stayed the same, about $55 per line plus gst. i think a single smartphone plan could be had for $65/month

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Peter

Philip – give your head a shake. You will not find a progressive farmer who has had a smart phone and walked away from it and that speaks volumes. Yes we pay higher fees than other countries, but in my experience, it’s a burgeoning technology that offers enormous payback on my farm. If you want to sit at your computer, go ahead – I am interested in less office time not more. I’m on the move and my office must be on my hip. BTW, I pay my own bill. I like a good debate, but you’ll need to do better. Try a smart phone for 6 months and then you can speak from experience rather than speculation. You can do better Philip.

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Shaun Haney

I would have to agree with Peter on this one. Obviously its not extortion if the use rates are as high as they are. Most farmers in our area have them now and use them very dilligentlyt and look at them as a tool and not like they are being ripped off.

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John

I have a blackberry storm2 and downloaded both genuity and syngenta app’s. Both had issues with my version when I first downloaded, Genuity got fixed but syngenta one still doesn’t work properly. App’s are fine when they work but the developers need to get the bugs worked out of them before they release them!

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Luke Hartung

For those who are interested, some other very useful apps for the iPhone are DuPont’s TankMix and The North Face Trailhead.
DuPont’s app makes tank mixing easy and straight forward and has both metric and imperial units available.
North Face’s Trailhead app is not specifically designed for agriculture, but can be extremely useful when scouting fields. Simply, it is a GPS based app and will track your trail, or in this case, trail you scout your field. You can save each trail you make, which will allow you to ensure each time you scout your fields you can take different routes and explore different areas. Additionally, if you see a problem area and want to revisit it you can flag it and you will easily be able to find it again. It also allows you to take pictures and flag them to exact point of your field were you took it…check it out!

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Philip Shaw

Peter, maybe I was a bit harsh, dunno, I don’t understand the I can do better comment. I try to do things as hard as I can all the time. I try to add to the debate, not defeat it. In January 2009 I reviewed 5 different brands of smart phones, including the iPhone and Blackberry for Country Guide magazine. I don’t have any issues with smartphone technologies other than the cost which I find too onerous for me. As far as trying a smartphone for six months, dunno if that could be done, but the cost of that would surely be around $600-$700. At the present time, I’m not willing to do that. In my mind, the wireless fees we pay here in Canada are way too high and they are a big drag on the technology. In other words, if we had wireless costs like the rest of the world, everybody would have a smartphone. On my farm, I take my office with me via my cell phone. In my immediate area, I know of one farmer who has a smartphone, used mainly for a custom work business he has. I know another who has an iPad G3 which he finds very useful. We’ll see what happens. In my own case, and I think many others, we’ll let the early adapters of smart phones in agriculture work the bugs out. I’m trusting wireless data costs in Canada will come down so everybody can embrace the technology. Not sure that’s going to happen. However, I hope it does

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