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Aerial world is taking off, and other springtime observations

Had a chat with Team FIN member Scott McPheeters this week; this Gothenburg, Neb., farmer is always up to something. During the National Farm Machinery Show he bought his own unmanned aerial vehicle, which he assures me he'll be putting to use soon.

However he made another interesting observation: "These drones are everywhere. This may be the biggest thing to hit agriculture in a while."

And you've all seen it. Perhaps the funniest so far is the rash of UAV selfies that are showing up on Google+ and Facebook. That's where a farmer flies his UAV by and takes a picture of himself. Of course that's good practice for using these tools but data collection will start soon.

For McPheeters he sees a few uses for the tool including better management of his irrigation pivots. He notes he thinks as he uses more variable rate irrigation he can monitor crops more easily.

And another use for the UAV is the ability to check on pivot health when corn is too tall to see across the circle. The UAV can make a quick trip to make sure every nozzle is delivering water. Good ideas all.

We will hear more about UAV use at the Precision Aerial Ag Show in July too.

Faster planting

You proved it again this week. Farmers are tech ready to get a crop in when conditions are nearly right. I say nearly because Iowa made a significant jump from 20% planted to 70% planted in just a week, according to USDA's latest Crop Progress Report.

I always marvel at that idea that you have the tools you need to essentially plant the crop in about two weeks. Then again, that's my rule of thumb for being properly equipped. If you can cover your ground in perfect weather in two weeks for all crops you're probably right sized. For a combine, or harvest, the timing is about four weeks.

Real world says planting can last for weeks, but the two week in perfect weather is a good way to measure capital purchase investment. And it appears that's what a lot of you are doing.

Personal tech observations

I'm writing this blog on my iPad. I don't do that often, but caught myself stuck an extra day on the road thanks to a bizarre situation in Chicago that shut down both airports. An extra night in Louisville wasn't bad, but on an early flight home I used my iPad to help write this blog.

And I continue to marvel at the use of the smartphone. When the schedule snafu hit the fan in Chicago, I was able to find out just what was going on by Googling the news. Even Southwest gate agents hadn't heard why flights were suddenly late and/or canceled.

In fact I stepped up to the counter to ask about my cancelled flight and it was news to the gate agent. Yep you can be ahead of the curve with your smartphone and I believe that's why I am seeing so many more these tools in farmers' hands.

We are working to make the smartphone a better tool for you too, whether it's our mobile responsive sites that allow you to check out what's happening at Farm Industry News easily or our new Ag Weed ID app that can be an early warning system for your fields. And we're working on new apps for the future too.

Apps you like

And we are always looking to fine tune our list of Ag apps. You could help us by commenting below and telling us what apps you like to use on your tablet or smartphone. We have a roundup from 2013 and we'll be updating that soon. Your help is appreciated.

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