The success of any agricultural operation is dependent on the production of high-quality goods.
As a farmer, you have to be aware of the latest technologies to ensure your success. We've done some research for you and dig into the farm apps that focus on decision support tools that will help you maximize productivity and quality for your pastures! It's time for you to look closer at your digital tools. It's time to stop asking the question, "Is there an app for farmers?" Instead, and ask the question, "Which app is best for farming?"
Let's get to it.
What are farming apps, and why should I use them?
Most days, farmers are recording grazing events, usually in a notebook or on a whiteboard.
This helps them keep track of where their cattle have grazed, how long ago, and then communicate this information with workers.
Using a grazing app saves time on administrative work and paperwork because apps function as databases with GPS locations for property boundaries and storage of this vital information. There are also grazing apps that keep track of animal movements during grazing sessions, providing valuable insight into animal health or management issues.
Farmers have been using technology to save time since the advent of the computer age, but making grazing decisions with an app is all-inclusive in the benefits you can glean.
An app for grazing is extremely beneficial due to less time lost on administration work and documents; GPS locations for property boundaries; tracking animals during grazing practices - all providing insight into agriculture-related issues.
What are a few benefits to finding the right tool?
Here are a few of the benefits from using pasture management and grazing apps:
- Insight at your fingertips on a phone, tablet and computer.
- Greater efficiency with decision making and decision support.
- Quick access to paddock and livestock management information.
- Easier analysis of long-term trends from the environment and management changes.
- Safely stored and backed up data, no risk of losing your important information through the washing machine.
Still wondering, you could check out a review of Pasture.io to see what others look for.
What are some of the features that separate farm apps?
There is a range of farm apps that focus on pasture and grazing management.
This range covers a spectrum of basic calculators through to automated pasture measurements with ruminant nutrition.
It is common to find a free app level in with many farm apps.
A philosophy at Pasture.io is to not charge farmers for things that they can do in a notebook, such as recording paddock activities, logging grazing events, making fertiliser maps and so on.
Some distinguishing software features
Some of the many distinguishing features of these ag apps:
- Paddock records (fertilisation, spraying, grazing, harvesting, planting, notes, etc.)
- Manual pasture measurements (you need to take quadrant cuts, use a rising plate meter, the MLA ruler, CDax pasture meter, and then import this information into the app).
- Automatic pasture measurements (otherwise known as satellite pasture measurements)
- Livestock and farm equipment GPS tracking.
- Integrated farm mapping and compliance and satellite imagery (not just Google Earth).
- People management with calendars, rosters, reports, observation photos.
- Third-party and seamless integrations with paddock, animal and farm equipment sensors, weather stations, livestock equipment, and farm machinery.
- Field scouting to understand pest pressures or ID weeds and satellite imaging helping you scout crops, but that is a little off-topic for grazing apps.
- Reporting, printing and copying all data into spreadsheets, pdf reports, downloadable images and so on. Remember, it is your information to keep.
There are so many grazing apps out there to choose from. One app works as a grazing management tool and another as a pasture measurement, but it's difficult to tell which will work best for your farm. At Pasture.io, we cover many of these bases by combining automated pasture measurements with a powerful grazing decision support tool backed up by a deeply integrated digital paddock app.
How do I find ag apps for my operation?
Finding agricultural apps for your conditions is part of the fun.
Yes, you might not quite stumble on what you're trying to achieve right away. But, with a bit of perseverance, the new apps that work for you will become evident. We have found that word of mouth is a good source for understanding what other people use.
There are different companies for the array of many farmers. Lot's are coming up with innovative ways of solving on-farm issues the farmer sees. However, it's important to note that there will never be one platform to manage your data.
Understanding what you're looking at and for
So, you know which features you have in mind. The next step is to work out what other features there are to receive support. Dealing with issues should be front and centre, and an app that provides the following support is in good stead:
- Tiered support levels based on your subscription, and you can connect multiple advisors.
- Phone, SMS, and third-party providers such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc.
- In-app chat, screen sharing and email, remote video conferencing, tours and wizards.
- Local numbers if you are in a different country.
- 7-days a week support, as farmers rarely go on holiday and the app needs to resolve support issues, and no one likes a resolution status pending.
- Public roadmap and ability to vote on feature requests and enhancements and farmer feedback.
Why should I subscribe to farming apps now?
Weather conditions are constantly changing, and so are farm apps.
You wanna make money by using an app, right?
At least, the best ones are! This evolution is following the feedback given by farmers.
The best grazing app will be the one that has been tailored to suit your farm, or it is at least flexible enough to deliver what you require.
Analysing the data to make the best on-farm decisions
Here's a quick wrap-up of why you should subscribe and seek support:
- Business managers and family members can quickly see who is grazing where and when, increasing decision-making capabilities.
- Easier compliance with government environmental reporting.
- Users can share grazing plans between different devices. No more running late or forgetting your grazing plan at home!
- Long term trends of pasture quality become easier to analyse with concise summary reports available at the touch of a button.
- Facilitates farm business decisions on fertiliser rates, paddocks, grazing management, livestock management and calendar planning, and the list goes on!
Which are the Farm Apps that will make my life easier?
Each grazing app comes with its own strengths and weaknesses.
Nevertheless, these are the grazing apps we have used in our time as farmers to help make grazing decisions.
- PasturePlus (retired)
- Farm Keeper (retired)
- My Ravensdown (NZ)
- Agrinet.ie (Irish)
- Pasture Coach ITC (NZ)
- LIC MINDA Land and Feed (NZ)
- And of course, our very own Pasture.io (based in Australia with customers worldwide)
- Pasture.io for automatic (satellite) pasture measurements and grazing management
- Pasture.io has been around for quite some time now, and it is one of the most popular grazing management tools out there on the market today, for a good reason.
It's simple yet powerful and takes input from satellite images, or you can download pre-made pasture maps to plan your grazing across paddocks and pastures easily.
The long term trend graphs will quickly let you know how different paddocks fair over an entire year which is great for budgeting purposes.
This grazing app also allows you to enter your manual pasture walks or upgrade to automatic (satellite) pasture measurements.
Say no to crappy grazing management software!
If you've come across a grazing app that is not here, please let us know so we can check it out and share it with the rest of our readers.
Wondering about other software, well, here is a list:
- Drift App
- AgVend Grower Portal
- AGI SureTrack
- SupPlant DSS App
- FarmQA Scouting
- Skippy Scout
- John Deere MyOperations (now called Operations Center Mobile)
- Premier Crop
- CropX Adaptive Irrigation App
- Pioneer Seeds App
- DecipherAg Mobile
- The Market Watchdog: AgMobile
- The Data Tracker: Farm Logs
- The Bird's-eye Viewer: TerrAvion Mobile
- The Weed Analyst: ID Weeds
- The On-the-Go Troubleshooter: AgriSync
As you can see, the list goes on and on and on, and we haven't even scratched the side of the barrel! Some are for trading purposes, others for grain prices, informational purposes, extension agents, agricultural machinery, identify weeds based on scouting, and the app provides meaningful information for weather, previous soil sampling points, used farm equipment classifies, advisor's organization, sourcing the common or Latin name. Some with pretty bar chart solutions, oh did I mention trading purposes and buying farm equipment?
Okay, you get the picture, let's move on...
What are some of the disadvantages of agricultural apps?
One of the disadvantages is that you need to make sure there is a good backup system for when things go wrong, such as grazing plans not uploading if your internet connection has gone down or even if the app itself breaks.
Let's face it, any disadvantages to agriculture apps may disrupt your operations if you are not prepared. For example, many works as web applications, which means if your internet on-farm is poor, you might need to connect a satellite dish up to your office. You'll then be left with only accessing the app at your office.
If you were using paper tools before, note that grazing plans and farm maps will become obsolete. You won't be able to give out individual grazing orders like "donkey D1 must graze at paddock 3" anymore, but instead, flicking between screens and menus will allow others to see who's grazing where and when.
Fear not. The agriculture app should support you and any employees in training.
Some of the disadvantages to using software in the field
When your time comes to take on an ag app, choose one that suits you best and work out how it can get you past your hurdles. If something goes wrong, investigate it slowly.
Here are some issues that may arise in your adventure into digital tools:
- Phone reception and network connectivity issues.
- Annual subscription-based, this is how companies continue to do business so they can continue to update, innovate and support your operations.
- Difficult learning curve if you are not used to agriculture apps already, and the app should come with plenty of in-app support.
- App developers that don't get what happens on a farm
Do Apps Provide AI and Machine Learning?
With the advancements of computing power, there is a new generation of artificial intelligence and machine learning used in apps.
Not quite yet in native mobile applications, but with the technological progress of mobile devices, this is a space to watch.
Most farmers want to pull their mobile device from their pocket and open the mobile software of choice to see the information to make the best on-farm decisions. When this is supported by sophisticated modelling, the decisions become something bigger than what you can achieve with a calculator.
Agricultural producers can now stand at ease, knowing that standardized field data is possible, streamlining modelling processes and ultimately the outcomes of the decision support tool.
Pasture.io is one tool that uses the latest machine learning technology to provide grazing insights to the farmer for profitable grazing decisions.
Using satellite imagery will show you where grazing is happening across your farm at different times. It can help you understand which pastures are the best performers, or in the case of pasture renovations, which is performing poorly.
The main pasture models run daily and update on your device automatically. In addition, we have app developers who are continually improving and enhancing the product with the latest updates continually pushed out for you to access.
What is Pasture.io, and does it cover all of the above?
Pasture.io is a great grazing app because it offers an intuitive way to plan out grazing, set grazing controls and measure pasture.
It also has the bonus of being one of the few grazing apps that work well on iOS and Android platforms.
There's just something about Pasture.io - its simplicity and ease of use for all users make it stand out from other grazing apps.
"Let us take this opportunity to welcome you into the world of grazing management software."
Our philosophy as a company is to support you as farmers with farming decisions. Our goal is for you to easily record the essential pieces to move on to the next important thing in your day.
We automate as much field information as we can, so you're just a few clicks away from not only record keeping but gleaning meaningful data.
One of our core services is satellite pasture measurements, using local information connected with weather apps and access to satellites.
We then utilise your paddock data and records such as fertiliser applications, grazing events and then put this into a machine learning environment.
This paddock data is not only for informational purposes, but we actually take the information further, making field data accessible for other purposes, such as the quantity of pasture in a paddock or how quickly each paddock grows.
Our goal is to provide farmers with one platform that provides access for farmers to a comprehensive farm management system.
Our system is provided as is, with continual updates. We don't claim to be the one platform that does it all. Our app connects farmers to a powerful and flexible decision support tool.
If you're a farmer, put down your equipment, turn off your farm machinery, tickle your farm dog and do what other users have done and schedule a phone call with us today.
Until we meet again, Happy Farming!