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Since my Ag App post in July I have presented on the topic an additional five times and have two more on the books for 2014. A good thing about doing talks is that you have to update the information to remain current. Which in all honesty, when it comes to technology of any kind this is quite challenging and even more so for Smart Phone Apps. In July when I first blogged on the subject I had 76 apps on my iPad. Today (1.3.14) I have 111 apps on my iPad, for both the iPhone and iPad, that I deem to be Ag related. Since the summer I have found new favorites, changed some, and added categories but for the most part I still maintain my 2 minute rule stated in the first blog. I have allowed a bit more leniency in that I now say “If I cannot figure it out in 3 minutes it’s GONE. An app should be intuitive, easy to use and have a purpose. They only exception to the 3 minute rule is the Scouting and Mapping Apps. Because of their complexity I allow them 5 minutes, and then I am done. Any app with GIS in its name gets much more time” I guess I am just getting soft.
Again I must make the obligatory statement; I am not a developer, designer, or expert. I am just a user who has had a chance to look at a few apps. Almost all of the apps I have are free and I am sure I have missed a few. Please share those with me. I am also not discussing Mobi’s, this is another large group of quality decision aid tools. I am also not discussing none apples apps. This is not because they are not relevant or important, it is because I do not have that technology.
I now have nine Ag folders on my iPad:
Ag News/Weather/Markets, Scouting/Mapping, Record Keeping, ID Tools, Crop Tools, Calculators, Sprayer/Chemicals, Fertilizer, Seed Select.
Apps are nice because the majority are stand alone and do not need internet or cell connection. This means they can be used when you are in the middle of nowhere, which is a great deal of Oklahoma, and have no service. This will exclude many of the Ag News/Weather/Markets, Scouting/Mapping, and Record Keeping apps that need positioning or location information.
Now let’s discuss some of the new and old apps.
Not much change in this group however I have added one or two.
This category has changed the most. Record keeping apps have been removed and several new apps added. The only free apps which can create boundaries are still Scout and Sirrus. To date Scout remains to be my favorite app for in field scouting notes. Pictures tagged with Lat Long and a note is very useful. My knock on is app is its boundary creation. It is a challenge every time as it is hard to remember the steps and not make a mistake. That is where Sirrus comes to play, by far the best boundary creation app. Sirrus has easy to use tools for both point and pivot boundaries. I like the edit vertex zoom in tool that resembles a rifle scope. I was able to add 12 fields in a matter of 20 minutes. Being able to create grid soil sampling scheme and record samples is also a very nice tool. My favorite part of the app, the UNDO button, and all apps should include this. The drawback to Sirrus is that it has no ability to take notes such as Scout. An additional nice scouting tool is South Dakota States NPIPM (North Plains IPM) app. This app provides not only a pest id tool with morphological drop down, I will discuss this in the ID Tools cat, but also management recommendation for the identified insect.
The majority of the apps in this category are “Pay to Play”, which makes since as they deal with data management and storage. Many would also fit the Scouting/Mapping category. As I do not pay for many apps I do not have experience with any of these. However this is the category that I would recommend any group to look at as they should be the all-inclusive app. However, PeRK by the University of Nebraska is a free app designed for field records of pesticide applicators.
I have added a few apps to this category but my favorites have not changed. I regularly use Plant Images, ID Weeds, and the Pestbook as references. I will add more discuss to app ID tools. The importance of being able to ID weeds and Pest via morphological drop down menus (ID Weeds and NPIPM) is extremely important. Many of the ID tools just have pictures and names. Well is I am using an ID Tool I likely do not know what I am looking at or what it is called.
Crop Tools includes my second “Paid in Full” app. And this one hurt a bit more. Not because it cost money but because I have multiple versions of the hard copy. However Field Guide by Purdue is one of my most recommended apps. Field Guide is the electronic version of the Purdue Corn and Soybean Field Guide, which the majority of consultants in the Corn Belt likely have this sitting in their truck. The Stoller apps also have nice very nice image bank of plant developmental phases. FieldGuide and CornAdvisor, another good app, are great examples of what I expect to be coming out of the majority of the Land Grant Universities very soon. Cooperative Extension has hundreds if not thousands of quality hard copy publications just waiting to be turned in to handy dandy apps. To be honest I am working on turning my Nutrient Management Field Guide into an app right now.
Only two apps has been added to this category. I am still using Fert.Removal, HarvestLoss and Growing Degrees on a regular basis.
Many apps have been added to this group but none of them have been good enough to kick TankMixCalc and SpraySelect of my favorites list.
Similar to the Sprayer/Chemicals category several apps have been added to this group, including several from Ok State. For me the Fert Cost Calc is still very useful. I do not get to use the Manure Calc I am very impressed by its layout and user friendliness. This app allows for applicator calibration, nutrient recs and manure value estimator.
It is no surprise the apps in this category are company created. I will say for the central Great Plains Pioneer’s Canola Calc is very useful tool for selecting canola planting rate providing input for row spacing live plants, seed weight, Germ percent, and survival percent.
To wrap up this blog I want to share with you may new Favorite none ag app. Bump is a huge time saver for anyone who takes pics with your iPhone or iPad. Bump allows easy transfer between mobile devices but more importantly between your mobile device and desktop by a simple tap of the space bar. This file share will go both directions. This means no more emailing pictures from your phone so that you can have them on your desktop. Bump is a iPhone app that can work on the iPad.
When searching with an IPad, remember to switch the search to include IPhone apps, there are some good ones out there that are IPhone only. Check out www.npk.osktate.edu/presentations to see screen shots from many of my favorite apps.
So I am going to approach a subject in this blog that is Not in my wheelhouse. At the first of the year I was asked by a friend to speak on Ag Apps at the 2013 InfoAg meetings. His thought was, hey this guy teaches Precision Ag and uses a IPad, he must know apps. Well, not so much. From January to the day before the talk in July I spent a great deal of time scouring the App store and working, my wife described it as playing, on my IPad. At info Ag I gave two talks, at the time of first talk on Tuesday I had 53 Free apps (1 paid), by the next morning and my second talk I had 60.
Since the meeting I have had numerous request for the slides and etc, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for a blog. Since InfoAg (7.17.2013) I have picked up even more apps, the total is now 76. However many of the new apps require registration.
On my IPad I have organized the apps into 8 basic folders:
ID Tools, Calculators, Seed, Sprayer/Chemical, Fertilizer, New/Weather/Markets, Scouting, Ag Apps (apps I don’t know what to do with).
While I have 76 Apps I of course don’t use them all. What follows is basically my Editors Choice from each group. Please note I have not had the time to work with all 76 Apps. And I am by no means an expert in Apps or the use of them.
I do have a basic require of any App I use. If I can not figure it out in 2 minutes its GONE. An app should be intuitive, easy to use and have a purpose. They only exception to the 2 minute rule is the Scouting Apps. Because of their complexity I allow them 5 minutes, then I am done.
This Category holds the One and Only App I paid for, Plant Images, a library of Nutrient Deficiency photos. I mean I am a Soil Fertility guy.
I regularly use Plant Images, ID Weeds, and the Pestbook as references. ID weeds is a true ID tool as you can use attributes to ID your weed, while the other two are visual reference tools.
I personally use the two Nutrient Removal Apps the most, but after the latest update AG-PhDs Fert. Removal has become my favorite as it allows you to entire any yield level.
Harvest loss is also a handy App that lets you put $ to combine inefficiencies.
This group contains two of my first Ag Apps and most frequently used.
Being a fertilizer guy herbicides are not my forte however I use the often.
TankMixCalc and SpraySelect has been in my App arsenal from the beginning.
The nice item about many of the Sprayer Apps is the ability to save/store mixes or provide record keeping.
Now the Fertilizer Apps are right up my alley. But the only ones I use are the Cost Calcs. As far as fertilizer recommendations go you must remember they are quite regionally specific so the Wisconsin Corn N rate Calculator does me little to no good.
This is the category that I have the most apps. My first was Agriculture (DTN/PF), so I fall back to it often but I also like AgIndex and AgWeb. With the news/marketing ext apps the biggest key is find one that a) reports on topics of interest to you, they do differ and b) has a layout and design that is easy to use and enjoy.
The Scouting tools are a bit different, most but not all require registration of some kind. I like most that I have tried but each has their own high and low points. The use of a scouting tool will be highly dependent upon uses, goals, and what companies you currently work with. For example Field Notes 360 has some nice points, you can make notes on photos, but you have to be a Pioneer employee or customer to get full use, I like Scout (Connected Farm) note taking capability and the fact you can input GreenSeeker NDVI values. I have the beta version of Sirrus but I can all ready tell you it is shaking out to be my favorite. Two wins for Sirrus, its method of creating and editing boundaries is top notch but what I like the most is its ability to set up a direct grid sampling.
I don’t expect any app to change my life or yours, but it may make it easier.
The ID Tools, Calculators, Sprayer/Chem and Fertilizer apps are nice when I am in the field with a producer and just break out the IPad for easy demo/explanation.
There is a multitude of apps available and more being produced every day. Just as everything else find what suites you regardless of others opinions. When searching with an IPad remember to switch the search to include IPhone apps, there are some good ones out there that are IPhone only.
If you want to see my presentation from InfoAg, checkout their website www.infoag.org/program3 or go to the http://www.NPK.osktate.edu website and download the PDF of the slides under the Presentation tab.