Posted on June 12, 2014 at 8:30 AM by Iowa Corn
By Stacey Murray, The Gazette
Twenty years ago, Jim Greif purchased what, at the time, was one of the latest farm-friendly technologies — the $3,000 Apple Newton MessagePad.
|Jim Greif uses smartphones and tablets to run his farm a mile north of Prairieburg. Greif is one of many farmers across Iowa using smartphones, computers and tablet apps as a streamlined way to do previously tedious work. (Justin Wan/The Gazette)
The handheld device had minimal computing capabilities that he hoped to use to help manage his farmland. Now, Greif calls it “a total joke.”
Greif is one of many farmers across Iowa using smartphones, computers and tablet apps as a streamlined way to do previously tedious work.
Roughly half of the 2.2 million U.S. farmers use a smartphone, according to a Float Mobile learning study. And on the heels of the smartphone came agricultural apps.
|Jim Greif uses smartphones and tablets to run his 1,000-acre farm north of Prairieburg. (Justin Wan/The Gazette)
Greif relies on three apps daily — one to watch the weather and two that transfer data from his pesticide sprayer to his office. Other apps help him log chemicals while in the field or transmit data from a weather station in his field.
The combination of apps has had a positive effect on Greif’s bottom line, as it saves “massive” amounts of fuel and time.
|Jim Greif’s latest cell phone (far right) is loaded with apps that help him locate crops and other functions. (Justin Wan/The Gazette)
“Technology has always kind of interested me,” he said. “I don’t know if I keep up with it, but I’m always trying new apps.”
Greif farms just over 1,000 acres a mile north of Prairieburg — and has done so since 1974, where he has followed technology as it developed.
Before Greif’s reliance on his phone and tablet, names of complex chemicals would be scrawled on sheets of paper on his desk, strewn between pieces of machinery.
Now, aside from tending to the land he farms, Greif is a custom sprayer. He diagnoses insect and weed infestations before spraying chemicals for farmers — with an app through BASF crop protection. He also can use GPS technology on his smartphone to map damaged areas of his fields — a more definitive practice.
Andrew Wheeler, communication specialist for the Iowa Farm Bureau, said Iowa farmers are adopting the technology throughout the state.
Wheeler said it’s a shift not only toward more technologically-advanced techniques, but a more conservative consumption of resources, known as precision farming.
The concept behind precision farming is for farmers to use exactly the amount of seed and fertilizer necessary. And from this notion, a market grew.
“This is a demand,” Wheeler said. “Farmers want to do more with less.”