By Michelle Striney
Welcome to the new ‘Technology on the Farm’ column! We at the Cornell Small Farms Program thought it was about time that we start sharing the latest technology farmers are using, be it newest innovations in farm equipment, record keeping software, or social networking and communication tools such as facebook and twitter. Have your own favorite farm technology to share? Let us know! Write to us at email@example.com.
A farmer’s work is never done – between doing chores, checking crops, and spending time with your family there’s hardly a minute to spare for sitting down at a computer to check in on new technology. But, if you have a cell phone that connects to the internet, often called a feature phone or a smart phone, there are a number of great (and affordable) web applications to help you get through your day with more time to spare for your family! Here is a list of the top ten.
AgSquared – specifically designed for small farmers by two Cornell alums, this record keeping software will allow you to create a farm plan, manage tasks, organize your employees, and keep accurate records. As you move through the season and input data, the program becomes customized to your needs. Expected launch in January, 2011. http://agsquared.com/ FREE
Twitter – Have you jumped on the social media bandwagon yet? Twitter allows you to contact your followers with short, easy to input Tweets (short text messages) delivered to their phone, Facebook accounts, email or Twitter feed. A great way to keep up with the latest in agricultural politics, food news, and networking and keep in touch with your devoted clientele! Very simple to use, and a great way to communicate more often with your customers, friends, and fellows in the field! http://twitter.com/ FREE
The Weather Channel – Don’t let Mother Nature catch you unprepared. Get up-to-date weather forecasting delivered to your pocket with the Weather Channel app. Incredibly accurate weather maps, temperatures, and forecasts. http://www.weather.com/ FREE, or try Pro (no ads) for $3.99.
SoilWeb – GPS based soil search application that accesses USDA-NCRS soil categories based on your present location. Information about soil chemical and physical properties, suitability for various uses and crops, delivered right to your phone or iPod right while you are looking at your field and that persistent problem spot. http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/HomePage.htm FREE
Pandora Radio – Out in the greenhouse and humming the same old song all day long? Not anymore! With Pandora’s free radio application you can enter a favorite song or style and download streaming music right to your smart phone. Minimal ads. Makes a long day go by much faster! http://www.pandora.com/ FREE
TankMix – the Dupont tank mix calculator is a very simple application to help you get the right product application rates on your crops. Easy to understand, with fill-in-the-blank style forms for product rate, tank volume, and spray volume. A great non-proprietary, time-saving application for those who have to do frequent product sprays. http://www.tankmix.com/ FREE
Locavore – One of a host of applications designed to help consumers find out what’s in season in their area, and where they can buy it. Farmers input their market locations, and share what crops are currently available. A great application that helps market your product directly to consumers. $2.99
Vegetable Gardening Guide – Trying a new crop but not sure if your direct market customers will know how to incorporate it into their meals? The Vegetable Gardening Guide contains planting and spacing information, reviews varieties, and includes recipe suggestions. Very basic intro to gardening, but useful if you’re interested in planting out new varieties of vegetables and sharing recipes at market. http://www.locavores.com/ $2.99
Growing Degree Days – Ag Progress created this location-based program to help you calculate the amount of growing degree days until your crop reaches maturity. Also offers weather radar! FREE
IPM Scout – Ever looked under a leaf and thought ‘Ugh, what IS that!?!’ This free application showcases a large variety of pests and diseases and helps you monitor, track, and keep records on what you find in your fields. Perhaps leaning a little towards turfgrass managers, but still very useful to farmers! FREE
Michelle Striney is Co-Coordinator of the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project for the Cornell Small Farms Program. She may be reached at 607-255-9911 or firstname.lastname@example.org.