There are several Apps that companies and public institutions have developed with the unique goal of increasing product exposure, reaching broad and progressive audiences, and improving effectiveness in communicating news, educational materials, and support tools. Without doubt, Extension is changing and the audience is evolving. During the winter meetings we’ve had this year, we have seen more and more people using smartphones and tablets for checking email, news, weather, grain price information, and more.

In the last month, the K-State Sorghum and Soybean Schools offered a concurrent session titled “New Technologies: Use of Mobile Apps.” From the audience attending these schools, almost 100 percent said they used Apps on a daily basis, primarily to check on the weather or grain prices .

During the past year, I have been investigating and evaluating the wide variety of available Apps for agricultural purposes. Most of the Apps presented in this article are free to download. Before paying for any App, please check online reviews or consult with any specialist working with that App in order to understand the benefits in using it and how it can assist you in your daily farming operations. As a general rule, an App needs to be “easy to use” and “intuitive.” Most Apps do not come with a user guide or a manual. Take all these points into consideration before downloading and using Apps.

I’ve created a subjective classification with the goal of dividing Apps by their different uses and purposes.

Ag-Apps classifications:

  1. ID Apps: For identification purposes (weeds, insects, diseases, and nutrients)
  2. CALC Apps: For calculating purposes (nutrient removal calculations, tank mixes, volume to spray, etc.)
  3. ECON Apps: For checking grain prices, market evolutions, fertilizer price trends, news and finances
  4. SCOUT Apps: For scouting purposes or for geo-positioning (soil sampling, recording notes, soil types, etc.)
  5. GUIDE Apps: For diagnosing crop production issues in the field, primarily related to field guides (crop management: insect, disease, weed, and more)
  6. GAG Apps: GAG (General Ag-Apps) for general use, weather-related, meetings, magazines, and more

ID Apps for Agriculture — These apps are primarily utilized for identification purposes for weeds, insects, diseases and nutrients.

Calculation Apps for Agriculture — These apps are primarily utilized as support tools and for calculation purposes.

Economic Apps for Agriculture — These apps are related to agricultural news, weather and grain prices. Several offer weather, markets, news and grain prices in one app. 

Scouting Apps for Agriculture — This section pinpoints apps that can assist farmers in preparing maps, taking soil samples (geo-referencing the sampling points), calculating areas, measuring distances and getting information about the soil type, among several other features. 

Field Guide Apps for Agriculture — These apps compile information from several production topics such as soil fertility, weeds, insects, diseases, crop management, calculators and more. 

Livestock Apps for Agriculture — These apps relate to animal management. 

Machinery Apps for Agriculture — These apps relate to farm equipment. 

General Agriculture Apps — These apps present overall information about agriculture and related areas, such as weather information. 

Non-Agriculture Apps — These apps are general in nature and can be utilized in several ways, including scanning images and converting them to PDFs, calendar, calculator, storing documents in the cloud, reading PDF documents and more. 

Future KSUCrops Apps — The KSUCrops team, a crop production team led by KSU crop physiologist and nutritionist Ignacio Ciampitti, is developing two new apps on soybean and sorghum. These apps will be available before the 2015 growing season and will allow growers to estimate soybean and sorghum yields before harvest. Both are Android apps. 

Ignacio A. Ciampitti is a Crop Production and Cropping Systems Specialist with Kansas State University. 

This article originally appeared as an eUpdate with Kansas State University Extension and has been reposted with permission. 

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About the Author: Ignacio Ciampitti