Using real time information in you farming operation.

A cell phone is not just a phone anymore. With all the advances in mobile devices over the last year or two you can maintain a true ‘mobile office’ with the new generation of smart phones (ex. Blackberry, iPhone). Technology advances such as GPS, auto-steer, yield monitors are fairly common in the agriculture industry so it is not surprising that smart phones are now being regularly used by farm managers and owners.

So you just got a new phone with a data package and once you figure out how to use the phone part of it now what? The question you need to ask yourself is this – Am I going to use this as my mobile office or just a cell phone? If you want more than just a phone read on for how I would start using this new phone.

First you will need a data plan. This is like buying internet service at your home or office, there are different packages for the amount of data you will use each month. Work with your phone service provider to find out what package will work best for you. Generally, in the beginning you will use more data as you ‘surf’ to find your favourite sites. Hint: many phones allow you to use a Wi-Fi service this reduces the cost of transferring data as you are using your wireless home internet rather than smart phone data plan.

Next set your e-mail to sync with your mobile device. Even with all the apps (applications) that are out there this still will be one of most used feature of your phone. All your contacts should sync from your office computer (Microsoft Outlook) allow you to easily e-mail your suppliers or agronomists. At Ag business companies, e-mail is now common and often the prefered communication method as it is generally a quicker way to get response compared to phone. Why not just phone them? How often have you played ‘telephone tag’ getting more frustrated with each message you leave. With the smart phone it is easier for us to quickly answer your inquiry by e-mail at a break in a meeting or in-between service calls while on the road as opposed to trying to connect by phone. This is the first application to get used to using and the backbone to your new mobile office.

There are many more apps that I will cover in later articles and how they can be used in your farming operation. Remember driving and smart phones don’t mix – pull over or use hands free. Have fun setting up your new office.

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