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November 17, 2016 << back >>

Appsolutely Brilliant – Apps aid Agriculture

Autonomous tractors, automated crop protection sprayers, weather stations that trigger alerts — digital solutions are making inroads in agriculture. But these systems are often as elaborate as they are expensive. Farming apps, in contrast, are easier to deploy. What pocketable Digital Farming solutions are currently available?

Mobile phones have become an essential part of our lives. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, 70 percent of the world’s population will be using smartphones by 2020. They allow us to communicate, read, shop, manage our appointments, and much more. And smartphones and their accompanying apps can simplify a farmer’s work, too.

An app for every use case

Apps for agriculture are just as varied as the tasks they are designed for. Nearly all of them serve one of three main purposes: management, communication, and information.

A consultant in your pocket

Apps can give farmers information that is of practical value. Connected to sensors, these apps collect environmental data such as temperature, rainfall, wind speed, solar radiation, and humidity to provide essential advice to farmers. These apps mostly rely on public weather stations or GPS data.

Farmers receive advice that is better tailored to their own operations if they use apps that access customized on-site data. There are for instance apps that support soil testing, detecting and identifying infestations in individual fields, and estimating yields.

One example of this kind of app is Bayer’s WEEDSCOUT, a tool that identifies specific weeds. The farmer takes a picture of a weed with a smartphone and immediately receives information on the weed that has been recognized. Based on a self-learning algorithm the recognition of weeds is improved continuously. The WEEDSCOUT is currently available for iOS and Android as a beta version–in Brazil, France and Germany. In the second half of 2017 an expanded scouting app will be launched including information on insects, diseases, and the nutrient status of plants.

Management apps are another closely related solution. They help managing everything from farm equipment and livestock to entire farms. By storing and processing information about the respective areas, they help farmers

  • record the full history of crops from planting to harvest
  • record chemical and fertilizer use including type, rate, and date applied
  • keep track of equipment maintenance
  • optimize equipment logistics
  • store, view and log information about fields
  • track pedigrees, animal transports, and medicine administered to livestock

Communication tool

Farmers have the need to communicate as much as anyone else. In a job that requires being out and about quite often, it is even more useful to have your communication tools with you at all times. With that, farmers can foster a close connection with their customers and suppliers.

News on demand

A third advantage of app technology is the constant stream of information they provide farmers on a silver platter. Whether it’s the latest information on grain prices, political decisions, or agricultural programs — farmers can use apps to create news feeds containing items that reflect local and personal interests.

Cloud storage as enabler

To access all this information everywhere with ease, the data underneath the apps needs to be stored at a central location. That’s where cloud technology comes into play. Nearly all apps use cloud storage hosted on virtual platforms they access via the internet. This approach has a number of advantages. If you lose or break your smartphone, for instance, it’s not the end of the world. The information is online, so you can still access it from your laptop or computer.

To learn more about what Bayer is doing in Digital Farming or to download the WEEDSCOUT application please follow the link: WEEDSCOUT