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Published online: Nov 11, 2021 Articles, New Products Ann Behling Wolf
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This article appears in the November 2021 issue of Potato Grower.

Like so many of his colleagues, Grant Morris, a producer in Pasco, Wash., relies daily on mobile communications to talk, text, email and manage equipment, crops and employees. But it’s about more than convenience. The gains he makes by using his smartphone and tablet add to his annual bottom line.

“Without mobile communications, it would take longer and cost more to perform the tasks I do on the farm. There would be more face-to-face interactions, which create inefficiencies,” says Morris, who owns and manages Schneider Farms. He farms a total of 2,000 acres and produces grass seed, potatoes, sweet corn and peas for processing.

Morris uses apps for any number of tasks today: to view satellite imagery that helps detect crop problems, look up invoices, monitor equipment operations, check fuel levels, buy inputs, transfer data, manage application rates, peruse agronomic recommendations, review sampling and scouting information, and much more.

“The apps help eliminate a ton of paperwork and trips to the office to grab files,” he says.

Morris equips each of his employees with a smartphone or tablet and trains them on those devices. The operation relies heavily on a notes app and Dropbox to maintain to-do lists, communicate and transfer data.

“I can see on the notes app when they’ve completed their work, so I don’t have to call and check up on them,” says Morris.

Photo courtesy Valley Irrigation

Kansas Farmer Adds Acres, Cuts Windshield Time

Producer Matt Moreland of South Haven, Kan., says mobile communications have helped him reduce driving time between the different sections of Moreland Farms. With 10,000 acres of corn, cotton, soybeans and winter wheat spread over 40 miles, that’s significant.

“So much of our business is based on spreading the cost of our equipment over many acres, and the more acres we can spread those costs over, the more profitable we can be,” says Moreland, who farms with his wife and three sons. “By using mobile apps and other tools, we can manage a greater number of acres.”

He uses a multitude of apps to help his operation run smoothly, and he’s a big fan of the Syngenta AgriEdge whole-farm management program. The program’s record-keeping platform enables him to simply and quickly access all of his farm information via mobile communications.

“I have all of my fields mapped, so at any given time, I can use my phone to see the exact acres on a field and what’s been applied to them, check planting dates, and much more,” Moreland says.

He also uses apps to monitor rainfall and irrigation, an efficiency that saves money and can reduce water usage.

“We’ve installed monitors on the center pivots, so I can use my phone to check water pressure and the speed at which each is moving,” Moreland says. “If necessary, I can change the directions they’re moving and adjust water amounts with my fingertips. I will get a text, email or call if anything goes wrong—the app gives us that immediate notification and saves us trips to the fields.”

Morris and Moreland are just two of the many ag professionals who have adopted mobile technology to work more efficiently.

“The most significant value created by mobile communications is a return on time invested,” says Tommy Jackson, an executive account lead for Syngenta Crop Protection. “Our growers have the ability to make decisions quickly because the information they need is right at their fingertips.”

To help keep its customers on the cutting edge of mobile technology, Syngenta is hard at work delivering digital tools that drive efficiency and accelerate profit potential.

“Slightly more than 50 percent of the traffic on our websites comes from mobile devices,” says Tom Lesser, a digital marketing lead at Syngenta. “Whenever we build or change anything on our websites, we take a mobile-first approach to design.”

Growers Benefit From On-the-Go Pest Alerts

Pest Patrol, a Syngenta tool developed to provide free and timely agronomic information for ag professionals throughout the South, is another way growers and crop consultants can get information quickly on their mobile devices.

They can sign up on the Pest Patrol website to receive text messages from university personnel and Syngenta agronomic service representatives (ASRs) from any of the 11 participating states. When specialists post crop updates, subscribers receive text messages with a Pest Patrol website link that takes them to a short recorded commentary on a timely topic. The program sees significant annual growth.

“It helps land-grant university extension specialists gain a wider audience for the information they generate and gives growers and crop consultants the in-season information they need to be more efficient,” says Syngenta marketing communications lead Pam Caraway.

North Carolina State University extension entomologist Dominic Reisig is a regular contributor to Pest Patrol. “It’s one of the methods I use to get timely updates to farmers and crop consultants during the growing season,” he says. “Our extension participants tell us that this is the program they receive the most positive feedback from.”

Mississippi-based Syngenta ASR Tripp Walker started posting alerts last year when growers needed in-season updates on the status of herbicides under regulatory review.

“I use it in situations where I need to provide more information than a text message can,” says Walker, who encourages growers to sign up now for this year’s growing season. “The alerts are focused and precise and have been well-received both internally and externally.”

 

This article was originally published in Syngenta’s Thrive Magazine in July 2021, and has been reprinted with permission.