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August 2012 Archive for Growing Technology

RSS By: Ben Potter,

Technology editor Ben Potter brings you the latest in technology news, and how you can apply it to farming.


Hurricane Isaac: Angel or Devil?

Aug 31, 2012

There’s a lot to hate about Hurricane Isaac. The storm flooded homes, nearly ruined the Republican Convention, is responsible for at least two deaths and $2 billion in damages.

And yet, according to this Weather Channel report, the storm is about to deliver a lifesaving rainfall to much of the Midwest. As meteorologists note, even where crops have been harvested, the rains will raise water tables, bringing a net positive to the area.

Gentle rains across the Midwest aren’t a guarantee, either. Some farmers are concerned that any strong winds associated with Isaac could knock down corn stalks and also cause muddy, compaction-prone fields just in time for harvest.

This Labor Day weekend, be take a minute to be thankful and humbled if Isaac was a benefactor. For those flooded out or otherwise damaged by the storm, you’re in our thoughts.

ua isaac research studentsjpg 326b87f2ed7d82e8 University of Alabama students test wind speeds from Hurricane Isaac in New Orleans. (AP photo)

University of Alabama students test wind speeds from Hurricane Isaac in New Orleans. (AP photo)

Your Phone Needs More Glam

Aug 22, 2012

As you can imagine, with a job title of "technology editor," I get some interesting new product pitches. A lot of them are relevant, and you’ll end up reading about a lot of those products on or Farm Journal. But occasionally, I get information for a product that’s better suited for, say, a fashion designer in Manhattan, New York, than a farmer in Manhattan, Kan.

Usually I laugh it off as an innocent mistake. When we move at the speed of the Internet, things get misdirected now and then, and I do not take offense. But what to do when I get not one, not two, but three emails about a product that's so laughably removed from our target demographic? I share it with you.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the JackGem!

The JackGem is a Swarovski crystal-encrusted accessory that you plug into your phone jack to add a chic pop of color. It is a brand new way to personalize your phone with your favorite hue and is perfect for fashionistas, girl geeks, and apparently farmers. I just wish it came in John Deere green…


It’s Hotter Than A …

Aug 21, 2012

One of the most enjoyable— and occasionally frustrating— things about writing for Farm Journal and AgWeb is coming up with a snappy headline and a strong lead paragraph. That’s what sets the stage for the entire story and is the No. 1 factor in determining if you do (or don’t) read it.

One of my October assignments for Farm Journal is exploring if and how climate change is affecting the way we farm. I’m not above starting a story with a quote, or an anecdote, or even a cliché. But weather clichés are just the worst and I’m doing my best to avoid using the ones we’ve all heard a thousand times before. For example, if you search for "If you don’t like the weather (just wait a few minutes)," Google delivers more than a BILLION results.

With that in mind, here is a list of weather related clichés I’m intent on NOT using for my climate story:

• It’s so hot outside, you could fry an egg on the sidewalk.
• The calm before the storm.
• When it rains, it pours.
• Come rain or shine.
• Ride out the storm.
• It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.
• If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.
• Turn up the heat.
• Hotter than a two-dollar pistol.

From here on out, I’m putting weather clichés behind me. In fact, it will be a cold day in … oh, nevermind.

Sneak Peek: Field Guide Mobile App

Aug 01, 2012

I love a good sneak preview as much as anyone, so I was happy to catch up with Amie Dunn, marketing intelligence and communications manager with FMC, at the Ag PhD and Hefty Seed field day in Baltic, S.D. Dunn was there to beta test Field Guide, a new app developed jointly between FMC and Ag PhD. Beta testing is important because farmers will play a role in sharing and shaping content, Dunn says.

"We see this app as continually updating," she says. "That’s the great thing about a mobile application. It can continue to grow and change as the grower’s needs evolve."

The app will include a weed identification section, regular ag news updates, podcasts from Ag PhD and more. Users will also be able to upload their own field reports and read peer reports from their area. Dunn says Field Guide has been submitted to the Apple App Store for final approval and will be available on Android devices soon.

In the video clip below, Dunn walks through some of the Field Guide features:

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