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Straight Stalk

Current crop information updates and research highlights

Agriculture Tool of the Year Award

Posted by N. Dennis Bowman -

I don't know if there is such an award as "Ag Tool of the Year" but if there was, I would have to suggest the Tablet computer. Tablet adoption rate in the ag industry would rival any new technology. Less than 18 months ago I was at a large ag conference and noticed 2 people that had "sleek" black rectangles instead of the usual laptop computer. Now the tablets outnumber the laptops.I am guessing there were many tablets under the tree this Christmas and there are a lot of new users out there. For new users I thought I would share my favorite apps. I am always curious about what other users have discovered and comparing notes, so even other folks may see something they haven't tried. Don't get upset if I don't include your favorite app I just haven't discovered it yet.

First I have to plug the apps I wrote. The MRTN/Split Application Nitrogen rate calculator is available for both Android and Apple. Android is available here on my the homepage of my website and the Apple version is in the iTunes app store. Combined they have been downloaded over 1000 times. I also have an Android app that calculates P and K Crop Removal available here.

One of my favorite tablet tasks is keeping up with news. DTN/Progressive farmer has a beautiful app than integrates ag news, markets and weather. Farm Futures has a great app that brings you digital copies of their magazine. For non-ag news I frequently use USA Today's app and Time magazine's app.

For weather info I have used both The Weather Channel and AccuWeather apps and like them both. Sometimes you just want to see the radar, then I use either MyRadar or RadarNow! Both use the tablet or smartphone's location system to quickly pull down the current radar scan for wherever you happen to be.

I just added the Guide from CDMS, if you are looking for pesticide label or MSDS information this is a great tool. It is free but you have to register to get the code that will let you in to the app. This part was mildly annoying, but now that I have it installed and configured, it will be a great resource.

Another app I use frequently is Evernote for taking notes at meetings or ideas that pop up when I am out and about. My Evernote automatically synchs to my desktop computer. Also, I use Dropbox to save files and make them accessible on any of my electronic information tools. It is also a great way to share files to widely dispersed family members or business team members.

Social media such as Facebook and Twitter have become a great way to exchange information with friends, suppliers and clients. Tablets are a very handy way to keep access to social media nearby.

I have discovered two cases that I really like for my iPad, a Griffin Survivior case for field work and a Zagg keyboard folio case for meetings and conferences.

What are your favorite apps or accessories? Post comments here on my blog.

There are just so many cool programs out there. This summer, while out in the field, I used the GoToMeeting app to participate in an excellent Drought Program put on by the American Society of Agronomy. Discovering new tools and uses is exciting. As a business tool it is tremendously powerful. However, when you need a break from all that information assimilation, check out ski safari.

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I'm looking on suggestions for buying a tablet for the 13 scouting/soil sampling season. My old windows is dead. Thanks!
by Michelle Sweeten on Thursday 3/21/2013