Is There an Agriculture App Gap?

June 24, 2016 12:06 PM
Is There an Agriculture App Gap?

There are apps aplenty in agriculture. Apps to help you scout fields and keep records. Apps to make smarter crop health or animal wellness decisions. Apps that optimize machinery and precision equipment.

But Jaime Vos, AEM safety materials manager, is on the hunt for something a bit different.

“When it comes to mobile tech on the farm, what about safety content?” he says. “Wouldn’t an app that featured safety best practices for equipment operations be just as valuable?”

Vos points out that most farm equipment manufacturers provide apps, but the content largeluy deals with management, maintenance and operations. It’s absolutely worth investigating if your equipment has online or mobile content, he says.

“And then there’s the question about millennials,” he adds. “Our industry needs to be marketing to and communicating with the millennials on their terms. It would seem fairly safe to say that the millennial farmer entering the ag industry would expect to access safety information – as all other information – on a mobile device.”

Vos raises a few other questions. Would safety content delivered via a mobile device improve worker safety? Would technology help deliver safety content more efficiently in multiple languages? How is safety information delivered to contract farm employees or immigrant workers? Is the future of equipment manuals, training materials and other safety content in mobile delivery?

“Only time will tell,” Vos concludes. “The only certainty is that technology will continue to advance, evolve and disrupt the way we access information, regardless of the industry.”

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Spell Check

Lon Crosby
Webster City, IA
6/24/2016 10:08 PM

  The opportunities to actually save lives and minimize medical expenses for farmers, their employees and their families is enormous – but no one is pursuing the opportunity. It is shameful. Let’s look at some simple examples. 1) The sensors in a smartphone can monitor a fall (from a combine, trailer, bin ladder, tree, etc.) and can define the existence of a fall, calculate the distance as well as the impact force. Unless physically (or verbally cancelled) the smartphone can call 911 (or another contact) and provide the exact location of the individual as wells as definitive information regarding the fall. At the same time, the microphone and speaker can be activated so the 911 operator/contact can verbally interact with the individual prior to defining a response. If physical sensors are also being worn, additional information such as respiration rate and heart rate can be obtained. 2) A smartphone has the ability to fundamentally change grain bin safety. One doesn’t get trapped in grain unless it is moving. A smartphone can easily (and at a reasonable cost) be interfaced with the control system for unloading (and loading) grain bins via the phone’s Bluetooth/Wi-Fi links. In essence, the smartphone operates as an E-STOP system (a system required on industrial machines). A small 12 volt powered signal repeater resolves the Rf problem found inside steel and steel-re-enforced grain bins. The app can just as easily be asked to monitor the phones sensors so that it would automatically detect an entrapment, shut systems down, sound an alarm and notify contacts. 3) Injuries (and deaths) from tractor roll-overs can also be dramatically reduced. A roll-over is virtually identical to a fall. In addition, if the smartphone is placed in a fixed holder on the tractor, it can be programed to provide real-time assessment of roll-over risk. The smartphone has speed /roll/pitch/yaw information as well as rate changes over time. If one adds basic wheelbase and center of gravity in

Lon Crosby
Webster City, IA
6/24/2016 10:10 PM

  CONTINUED information for the tractor (or lawnmower), the risk profile can be dramatically improved. If site specific terrain information (available on much of the country). There is a significant opportunity for AEM to take the lead and for farm publications to get the word out. AEM could encourage NIOSH to open up development funding, set up a central database for base center of gravity information for tractors (which could then be refined by a smartphone to account for relevant variables (weight, load, tire size, operating wheel width, etc.), evaluate apps, sponsor contests to encourage the development of specific apps, and much more. These apps are all relatively simple to develop and well within the capability of any engineering student with an interest in programming. The farm publication can easily resolve the outreach and commercialization issues. Note: There are all kinds of opportunities for ag apps. For example we are looking for a visual inventory covering individual trees in a woodland to enable active management and selective harvesting. We are also looking for an app that lets us image a known measuring stick and some rows and calculate basic plant spacing/emergence data.


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