The Mobile Farmer

September 5, 2012 09:52 PM

Top producers take advantage of mobile for business

Steve Pitstick is a self-certified mobile "geek." His iPhone is always on and usually half-charged, given its constant use. A Twitter fanatic and market hawk, Pitstick can’t imagine farming his thousands of Illinois acres without wireless technology.

TechnologyOnTheMove"I honestly don’t know how I ever farmed without my phone," Pitstick says. "It allows me to be so much more efficient, and I can react much quicker, especially during these volatile markets."

While adoption started off slowly, farmers continue to increase their use of mobile technology. A recent survey conducted by and Commodity Update found that while only 47% of the 800 farmers surveyed use a smartphone, 17% plan to adopt the technology in the coming year. The smartphone users report using their phones to call, text, e-mail, browse the web, and use apps and social media.

The most popular smartphones are Blackberry, Android, iPhone and Windows Mobile, in that order, according to a study by Mintel. Farmers age 34 and under are more likely to own an Android or Blackberry. This might be in part because AT&T isn’t always available in rural areas and Blackberries are free with many plans and are more durable than touch-screen smartphones.

With more and more applications being developed for the agriculture industry, farmers should stay informed about ever-changing mobile technology, says Isaac Ferrie of Crop-Tech Consulting.
"Phone apps let you have all the information you normally keep in a binder in the office at your fingertips in the field, where you can make the most use of it," he says. Ferrie says most guys are more comfortable using their phone than a personal digital assistant (PDA) or other field-recording device.

p28 The Mobile Farmer chart

Some tasks are more suitable to be done on your phone. "Scouting and soil testing are two areas where I think apps will thrive," he says.

Tablet Talk. Tablet ownership and usage are on the rise with farmers as well. Only 20% of the farmers surveyed by reported currently using a tablet, and of that 20%, the majority own an iPad. More than half purchased their tablet within the past year. Another 9% of the farmers surveyed said they plan to purchase a tablet in less than six months.

Watch for more information on how mobile technology is helping farmers boost productivity and improve business by following our Technology on the Move series.


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