Mobile record keeping simplifies business
Mobile technology allows us to do much more on the go, both personally and professionally. A new wave of mobile apps has accelerated the agronomic side of farming with better, more efficient processes. But farming isn't just about raising a crop; it’s a business. There are also tools available to improve record keeping, compliance and other aspects of the job.
Dino Giacomazzi, a fourthgeneration California dairy farmer, jokes that "you can’t run a dairy from the office, but you can take the office with you." Giacomazzi accomplishes much of his mobile office management through Dropbox.
Dropbox users can create folders and add files just as they do on their home PC. By granting permission to other computers, smartphones and tablets, those devices can access the folders and files, and even edit or add files of their own. Getting devices to "talk to each other" is a critical component for successful record keeping on the go, Giacomazzi says.
He says this and other mobile tools allow him to turn any location—a pickup truck, the local coffee shop or even an airplane—into an office.
Office To Go. "Here’s an example of how I manage bills using Dropbox," he says. "My mother is the bookkeeper and works from home. When bills arrive, she scans them to Dropbox using a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 scanner and her HP laptop. I looked at the bills on my Apple MacBook Pro while flying to Las Vegas for a conference. I made comments on some, filed the rest, and when I arrived at my hotel, Dropbox synced the bills back to my mother."
Improved record keeping for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliance is another valuable component of on-the-go computing. You can do it yourself through customized spreadsheets or one of several software packages. This functionality helps farmers more easily track anything from Bt refuge configurations to crop protection products and their labeled application rates.
The functionality doesn’t stop there. Some programs allow users to georeference photos and take notes. Deeper analysis can even log wind speed at the time of application, spray droplet size/pattern and more.
"These new programs are really making it easier to keep EPAcompliant," says Brandon Cavins, a
sales representative for FarmLogic. "With our mobile app, you can pull a full EPA report from your phone."
Record keeping doesn’t help only farmers. Crop insurance companies are making life easier with their own set of tools. At the new mobile-optimized website http://m.rcis.com, for example, insurance agents who offer crop insurance through Rural Community Insurance Services (RCIS) and their customers can submit a notice of loss, view comments and track changes as they occur. Users can search claims by name or policy number.
"We spoke with agents and developed a solution that addresses real-world needs," says Rick Greenwood, cheif technology officer for RCIS. "For our agents, it means fewer requests for claim updates to a regional service officer or area claims supervisor, resulting in more time for them to spend on other activities."
Greenwood adds that the latest software additions allow agents to e-mail reports to themselves or
anyone they wish. This means claims will move through the system more quickly, since reports can be filed right from the field rather than after the adjuster gets back to the office.
The benefits of digital tools are undeniable, Giacomazzi concludes. "Mobile technology allows me to spend less time at the office and more time with my crops, cows, employees and family," he says.
For more information on the latest mobile technology, visit www.agweb.com/TechOnTheMove.