Farming with Mobile Technology

The difference smartphones and apps make in the life of a Kansas farmer

By Aaron Traffas on July 2, 2015

How could a practice as old as farming rely on something as ever-changing as mobile technology? I’ll tell you, it never ceases to amaze me. I have a farm in Medicine Lodge, Kansas and through the years, I’ve seen mobile farming technology continue to evolve in amazing ways.  For example, when I was a teenager there was no such thing as “mobile farming technology.”

To begin, growing up on a farm is actually what gave me my love for technology. I also had side jobs building and selling computers that allowed me to pull my share of the work at our family farm, while making some extra money. I’m now constantly searching for new ways to integrate tech into my work on the farm.

A day in the life on the wheat farm starts early and ends late. I try to be out the door by 6:00 a.m. and it’s typically well after 10:00 p.m. before I’m in for the night. I’m fortunate to have help from my father-in-law to drive the truck during harvest, but the rest of the year I’m on my own. You have to get creative when you’re a one-man-show, so I turn to mobile technology to help get me though the season.

Most farming equipment manuals are now available in PDF online or through different apps, which makes maintenance on the farm far easier than ever before. It saves time from going back and forth to grab paper copies of manuals and makes searching for the answer quick and easy.

It’s also great to know that I always have everything I need at my fingertips. Simply having the reliability of making a phone call, rather than running back and forth on the farm or using a two-way radio, is also incredibly helpful. If you need help from a parts store or need to reach someone who’s giving you a hand that day, a mobile phone can be a lifesaver.

Apps like Evernote and Google Docs help reduce the large quantities of paperwork that are traditionally kept on a farm. It’s so simple to make notes, upload records and take photos that all save t to my various accounts. I also have constant access to this information from my tablet, mobile phone or computer.

I pay very close attention to device features when I’m shopping for a new smartphone. I want to make sure the device can keep up with me during my 16-hour work days. Hands down, the most important feature in my eyes is battery life (or the ability to upgrade the standard battery). I’m a voracious consumer of podcasts – there are about 50 or 60 that I subscribe to. Those play from my mobile device from the time I walk out of the house in the morning until I’m back late at night. Having good battery life is critical if I’m going to listen to podcasts and use my device to help with maintenance and record keeping.  

Additionally, having a reliable mobile network is quite possibly the most integral piece of the puzzle. Of course, being the technology enthusiast that I am, I get very excited to try the latest and greatest smartphones that are on the market. However, none of those features are sufficient if I can’t stay connected.  Verizon is able to give me the coverage I need in rural Kansas with all the smartphone bells and whistles I crave – a balance that is so key yet difficult to achieve.

Aaron Traffas is the voice behind aarontraffas.com and auctioneertech.com. He’s a farmer, auctioneer, tech lover, musician, husband and father of two from Medicine Lodge, Kansas. His blogs are his platform sharing his thoughts, tech tips and reviews with readers.

Follow Aaron on Twitter to keep up with his latest tech reviews and insights.

Tags: farming, farm technology, mobile apps