Apps and smart technology are not just for smart people, says California dairyman Dino Giacomazzi. "They help people like me be and work smarter," says Giacomazzi, who writes a Tech Talk blog. He depends on this technology to run his farm from the office, barn, home and anywhere he can get Internet. There are a dizzying array of programs and apps available. Giacomazzi and Jeff VanderWerff, a fourth-generation fruit and grain farmer in Sparta, Mich., help sort through the clutter.
Dropbox is a free service up to 2 GB that lets you bring your photos, documents and videos anywhere and share them. Giacomazzi keeps his business files in Dropbox and can access his documents from numerous devices. This program also allows him to share folders/files with other individuals, including his farm managers, veterinarian and nutritionist. "This is the best way I’ve found to store, share and access information," Giacomazzi says, noting that he pays for the upgraded version.
Evernote helps users remember and act upon ideas, projects and experiences across all computers, phones and tablets. Giacomazzi uses this to track equipment maintenance on all of his tractors. He has downloaded all of the Kubota manuals so if he needs a part, he can access the size, type and anything else he must know to order it. "This app helps me remember everything," Giacomazzi says. "I can store pictures, e-mails, leave a voice note and talk and have it dictated to text."
Mix Tank allows farmers to enter most common ingredients, and it spits out a complete mixing order to follow. VanderWerff says this app is a must-have for custom applicators. Ever turned a thousand gallons of water and herbicide into a giant vat of cottage cheese because you added crop oil at the wrong time, he asks. "With Roundup showing its age, and the mixes becoming more complicated, this is one tool you can’t be without," he says.
PDF-notes manages all pdf files on the iPad. Known for its fast display and page-turning, and for e-mailing files, Giacomazzi says it’s most useful for its finger-writing component. "I have received time-sensitive documents that needed to be signed and returned when I was states away on vacation," he explains. "I used this tool to sign the document and send it right back; otherwise, I would have had to locate a business services store and work from there."
Remember the Milk (RTM) is a free task management software. It allows users to manage tasks from anywhere; get e-mails, SMS or IM reminders; share your tasks; access tasks from your phone; manage tasks offline; use with Google Calendar and add tasks from iGoogle. "RTM is a simple app with powerful features," Giacomazzi says. "It only does one thing; manage tasks. A task can have several different properties and that is what makes this program so useful."
YieldCheck helps the mathematically-challenged, VanderWerff says. "If your dad is like mine, he can walk into a field, count the rows on a few ears, and make a dead-on yield calculation in his head in under 30 seconds," he says. "If you’re like me, this app is a lifesaver; just input your spacing, number of ears and the rows and rounds for instant yield estimates."
Watch a video of GiacomazziGiacomazzi's presentation at the Top Producer Seminar.