If Only We’d Had an App for That (App Update Version)

Note: Since posting this commentary, several more good App lists have digitally floated our way:

*** Apps about nutrient removal and grain marketing from Ag Web.
*** A variety of possibilities from Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog.
*** A list from an interesting source, the Renegade Farmer site. 
*** Ten useful App recommendations from a business writer.  

*** And my favorite: an amusing parody list of pseudo Apps for farmers.

I guess we need an App to keep us up with new ag Apps–and then an App to clear our heads for a while as the digital cloud gets thicker. Speaking of–this is last week’s posting:
Farmers and ag-related folks are taking to smart phones and Apps in increasing numbers, and those of us with dumb phones slowly slide into App Envy—an anxiety complex that comes when you think everyone else is digitally tuned into the newest thing, while you’re still trying to remember your password to access voice mail messages on your archaic cell phone.
But no matter which digital wave you are surfing on, Apps and smart phones are transforming food production, as this article from AgProfessional explains. The App topics range from soil testing data to seed analysis to voice-activated email. Many farmers now keep up with markets and the weather using Apps. Here are two of the many sample lists available online: 20 Best Mobile Apps for Agriculture; seven Apps recommended from the North Dakota State University Extension Office.
If only these Apps had been available when I was growing up on the farm.  On warm summer afternoons, my brothers, cousins, and I would roam the back pastures looking for trees to climb and spots in the creek where we could build dams.  No smart phones for parents to call and remind us when to get home and do chores; no stream water quality App to scare us about the toxins in the water we played in; and the only “angry birds” were the red-winged black birds that attacked us whenever we came anywhere near their nests.

When we started taking on farm jobs, we didn’t have a GPS system to guide our tractors around the fields.  We either learned driving skills or we tore out a few rows of young soybean plants while we cultivated.  During breaks while baling hay, we didn’t have text messaging to keep us occupied, so we listened to embellished yarns or semi-rude jokes the farmer might come up with when he handed us ice water and homemade cookies. And during evening baseball games, we didn’t even have tweets to read, so we had no idea what our friends were eating at the drive-in or buying at the record shop. We actually had to concentrate on playing the game and interacting with our friends who were there with us in person.

The digital revolution is changing agriculture for the better, but I have a feeling somewhere there is a farmer who walks out of his house unarmed, with no cell phone, Blackberry, or iPod in tow.  He pets his ten-year old collie as he walks to the feedlot to check on the cattle.  After getting a few buckets of grain for the new calves, he looks over the farm while standing in the shade of the oak tree that has anchored the place for 130 years. A summer breeze ripples through the tasseling corn, a red-tailed hawk hovers over the back grove looking for mice, and the newly baled hay stacked in the nearby shed still has that intoxicating alfalfa-clover aroma. I doubt if there is an App for that. by dan gogerty

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