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September 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.


Run the Mile You're In

Sep 27, 2012

I’m a runner. (Or at least, I try to be.) It can be a surprisingly complex sport if you let it. I can bore you with my thoughts on pronation or VO2 Max if you’d like. Or instead, I can share two simple pieces of advice that helps me in running and in life.

1. Run the mile you’re in. Don’t think about the finish line. Don’t think about the big hill ahead. Just concentrate on where you are right now.

2. You’re only racing against yourself. Nothing will take you out of a race faster than casually judging other racers. Case in point, I ran my first half marathon this past Saturday. Around mile seven, I realized I was slowly catching up to a 9-year-old girl. I passed her but only finished a few minutes ahead of her. (She was faster than more than 550 of the 806 total runners that day.) Obsessing about who finishes just ahead of or behind you can quickly destroy an otherwise positive experience.

What does all of this have to do about farming? I’ve spoken with a lot of people this summer about farm technology, and I think this advice is translatable. Some farm technology can be intimidating. It can be hard to learn. Someone will always be a faster adopter than you. It’s important to take farm technology in stride and go at your own pace.

In that spirit, we started a Technology on the Move series last month that spreads across our Farm Journal, Top Producer and AgWeb properties. You can find helpful content, including news articles, blogs, polls, mobile app reviews and more right here. It’s our hope that whether you’re a tech junkie or just starting out, you’ll find some useful information.

The progress of farm technology has shown no indication of slowing down. If anything, it’s speeding up as more companies see agriculture as a lucrative industry. The next decade could bring unprecedented farming automation and integration. Several companies even have driverless tractors in development.

But you can keep up. Just run the mile you’re in.


10 Technologies on the Way Out

Sep 25, 2012

A few months ago, a co-worker was cleaning out her desk and stumbled upon a long-forgotten 3.5" floppy disk. She took a photo of it and sent it around in an email. "What’s this?" she joked. "Beats me – use it as a coaster, maybe?" someone quickly quipped back.

The floppy disk is a dinosaur that’s been extinct for some time. But LinkedIn wondered: What’s next on the chopping block? The company surveyed more than 7,000 business professionals and assembled the following list. Unless you wear a three-piece suit in the combine, some of these tools and trends probably don’t affect you. But you might be surprised at some of the items on the list.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 office tools and trends that the LinkedIn survey respondents think will be extinct within the next five years:

  1. Tape recorders
  2. Fax machines
  3. The Rolodex
  4. Standard working hours
  5. Desk phones
  6. Desktop computers
  7. Formal business attire (suits, ties, pantyhose, etc.)
  8. The corner office for managers/executives
  9. Cubicles
  10. USB thumb drives


Wait, USB thumb drives? We use those on a daily basis at the Farm Journal editorial offices! Then again, that poor little 3.5" floppy disk probably felt just as invincible in the mid-1990s…

FJM fax

Does the Farm Journal fax machine belong on the "Endangered Technology Species" list?

Farm Family Sets Amazing World Record

Sep 12, 2012

Some world records are jaw-dropping. Others are just plain fun. The Kraay family, who farm in central Alberta, managed to do both with their record-setting corn maze.

"We have to come up with a design every year, and it's always a hard thing to do," explains Rachel Kraay. "We were looking through some magazines together and saw all these QR codes and thought, hey, those codes sort of look like a maze. I wonder if we can make one?"

The resulting QR code was an astounding 309,570 square feet and stretched across seven total acres. The family submitted evidence to Guinness World Records, who later verified it is in fact the largest QR code ever made.

"We weren't sure if it was going to happen with all the different evidence we had to submit, so we were relieved and excited," Kraay says. "It was a fun thing for us to do, and to receive this recognition really makes the hard work feel worth it."

It’s a fully functional QR code, too – scanning the picture below with a QR code reader (you might have to angle your smartphone a bit, but it does work) takes you to the Kraay family farm website. Or, you can fly over the actual corn maze with a helicopter and scan it that way. (That’s how the Kraays did it as part of their world record application to Guinness.)

kraay maze

The New Norm for Farm Communication [Infographic]

Sep 04, 2012

Thirty years ago, the personal computer was a pipe dream; now it’s the norm. Next in line are mobile/smartphone devices, which have nearly saturated the farming landscape, according to a new study by Float Mobile Learning. The study showed that nearly 19 in 20 farmers own a mobile phone or smartphone.

"The trend in North America is to larger farms, increasing automation, and striving for greater efficiencies," says Float senior analyst Gary Woodill. "Mobile technologies will turn agriculture into more of an information business, as precision farming, geolocation data and access to immediate market information all become important."

Here are some key insights from the study:

• Smartphone adoption among American farmers jumped from 10 percent in 2010 to 40 percent by mid-2011.
• In a survey of 60 mobile agriculture apps available in North America, 33 percent could be classified as farm management apps.
• Emerging market farmers’ incomes could rise by $138 billion due to mobile computing and communications services.
• One million rural households have broadband Internet access at home solely through wireless broadband services.
• Wider application of precision agriculture could reduce water usage by up to 50 percent.

"Learning with smartphones and tablets may be the only way to get just-in-time information to these professionals when they are on the road or in the fields," says Float’s managing director, Chad Udell.

Click here for an infographic that details additional insights about how farmers are using mobile technology on their operations.


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