While the trusty notebook and pen is still an invaluable tool for farmers, an increasingly sophisticated suite of mobile apps are now available. Applications to help with most sectors of agriculture are now available to download, some offering free usage, others requiring subscriptions to enhance functionality and user experience. Alex Heath looks at some of the options available.
Originally launched in 2018, the Skippy Scout app from Drone Ag has had a major update.
Version 2.5 of the app is a big step forward, according to the company. While the original version could fly a drone to scout points in a field five times faster than traditional crop walking, it says the new 2.5 version has more functionality and is ten times faster, enabling users to cover up to 25 acres in five minutes.
Offering field overviews, automated scouting and PDF field reports using maps uploaded by the user, and images taken by the drone, reports are generated using artificial intelligence interpretation to flag up potential crop issues and can also be compared to satellite and yield maps to find correlations in field performance.
With indicators for green area index, healthy and unhealthy crop cover percentage, weed percentage and an insect damage measurement, users can identify crop issues such as weeds or pests more quickly by subsequently viewing the leaf level images on their phone or tablet.
Existing users can update their app to version 2.5 for free. Monthly subscriptions start from £30.
iLivestock is a Scottish based company, specialising in software-based compliance and management for beef and sheep farmers. Through its app, a host of tasks and recordings can be completed, including movement notifications, weighing, treatments and breeding.
Coupled to the firm’s eWeigh and an EID reader, data is automatically uploaded to the app and into cloud storage, whereby any device can then access it. If there is no internet connection at the time of recording the data is transferred when a connection becomes available.
The eWeigh unit is essentially a weigh head, compatible with most weigh bars. Instead of a screen, keyboard or storage on the unit, the phone and app is used for input and viewing animal details.
The company says the app has been designed to be flexible with as little or as much data captured and analysed as the user requires. It is aimed at those already using data collection technology and those that want to get a foot on the ladder.
Subscriptions for the app start at £120 per year for a single user account and £199 for up to three users. The eWeigh costs £600.
This app has been developed by Jane Gurney, founder of the Tilly Pass trailer safety certification scheme. The Head to Tow app is free to download and provides operators with daily checklists for most British and Irish trailer manufacturers.
Clicking on the corresponding manufacturer sends users through to the manufacturer’s website where daily, weekly and monthly maintenance and check points can be easily found.
In addition, users can find their nearest Tilly Pass certification centre. The Tilly Pass is an 18 point inspection of the trailer, carried out by a certified mechanic and formulated with help from the HSE.
Breedr is a livestock app that helps to measure and monitor the performance of cattle. Connected to the BCMS database, the management tool predicts optimum finishing times based on actual growth rates, attained by weights entered into the system either manually or automatically when connected to a weigh head or EID reader in Crush Mode.
The recently added medicine cabinet feature allows farms to keep tabs on pharmaceutical usage. By scanning the product’s barcode the virtual cabinet is filled. Treatments can be logged against specific animals or groups and the cabinet level is automatically updated, with up to date vet med reports quickly available. In addition to analysing medicine usage and identifying areas for improvement, the records kept are compliant with Red Tractor requirements.
The app also allows for user to user interaction, with a farmer-led integrated supply chain, whereby calf suppliers can sell to store producers, who can sell to finishers. Data from each step of the rearing process is available to share with involved parties. Trading of cattle through the app commands a one to three per cent commission, but the data from the app is transferred to the buyer. The app is currently free to download and use.
A recent addition to Hutchinson’s Omnia Precision platform is a climate monitoring and prediction module, designed to help manage workloads and increase the efficacy of crop inputs by targeting key growth stages, based on weather data.
Omnia’s climate module uses virtual weather stations which can be pinpointed at any location, providing weather data accurate to one square kilometre of that station for a 10-day period.
Measurements provided within the module include not only the standard units for rainfall, temperature, windspeed and solar hours, but also soil moisture.
Current and historical (up to 30 years) climate data allows users to predict disease and pest burdens and plan to remedy them, in conjunction with a 10-day forecast, enabling windows of opportunity to be used.
A number of pests and diseases are predicted, as are the timings of growth stages. The climate module is free to use with Omnia Field Manager and is an upgrade for Omnia precision.
BASF’s xarvio Field Manager app has recently been updated, giving users access to further insights, more accurate field mapping, the ability to share farm access and a useful overview of farms, enabling better decision making.
Launched in the UK last year, Field Manager has been enhanced by working with growers and agronomists to better its accuracy and forecasting abilities.
Throughout the growing season growth stage predictions, disease and pest alerts, biomass maps and variable rate application maps are created from satellite imagery.
The app has several modes of operation, including field monitor, spray timer, zone spray and the latest inclusion nutrient management.
In field monitor mode, users receive field zone specific information such as biomass maps and weather data, which can be compared to historical data for yield, nutrition, crop protection, growth regulators, and seeding in the analytics section.
Spray timer gives an overview of risks and growth stage for each field, with disease and pest alerts when there is a change in risk status for the area. In addition, users can add their own observations on disease and insects to optimise the forecasts and recommendations.
Field zone formulates variable application maps to be used for crop protection product application. This allows for the correct amount of inputs at the right location, and reduces the chance of over or under dosing.
Field-zone nutrient management includes timing and dosing recommendations, application maps with automatically integrated buffer zones.
The app and data is compatible with most available terminals, which can be transferred via a USB flash drive or wirelessly with Machine Data Link.
The Dewing Grain app was launched late last year, by grain merchant brothers Henry and Josh Dewing. It has been designed as a tool for British farmers to keep up to date with the latest market information and attain the best prices for their crops through access to real-time grain trading information on their mobile phones.
Designed by DueTrade for Dewing Grain, the app uses a similar layout to popular social media platforms, with market and trade information shown in a simple and easy-to-understand way, giving insights to the current trading climate.
In addition, users can set up a business profile to manage their trading contracts and ledgers. The ‘in-app trading’ function means farmers can easily upload their harvest information and weight to receive bids from Dewing Grain. Farmers can then arrange contracts and sell grain through the app in a matter of minutes.
For those who want to listen to the latest reports, plus interviews with industry experts, the app also features a podcast. Presented by Andrew Dewing, chief executive at Dewing Grain who has a wealth of knowledge spanning over 40 years, the weekly 30-minute podcast offers support, guidance and learning for farmers who want to grow their business.
The Dewing Grain App is available to download for free from the Apple Store and Google Play app stores.