Spending time with farmers and talking farm tech can be fun, and challenging. You're constantly bamboozled by the latest farm-focused stuff, the incompatibility of systems and other issues that frankly just run up the aspirin bill.
Sorting all that out isn't easy, but after one of my technology talks recently I had a farmer come up and show me his "dumb" phone. He had gone away from the smart phone - after trying it - in part because the not-so-smart alternative was more durable. And before you think this guy was headed to Luddite land, there's a second part to the story. He's gone to using a tablet for email and other work.
When that first iPad appeared less than three years ago (yep it's only been that long) one of my first thoughts (voiced here) was that a tablet might be the better email tool for a farmer because of the screen size and frankly finger size. Fat-fingering a smart phone can be the most frustrating thing for someone just trying to send a short memo.
The bigger screen of a tablet (great for aging eyes too by the way) along with a realistic keyboard size really does make a difference. And for this farmer it's a prime example of appropriate technology applied for the farm.
Talking with farmers about tech can sometimes be a complaint session about how this doesn't work or that doesn't talk to the other thing. Real frustration is out there because software isn't updating (for example you can get data from the cab to the desktop, but you can't send map info for planting or spraying back to the cab.
One of my goals this week at the National Farm Machinery Show is to chat with key players in the precision ag, high-tech market to carry on this very discussion. I am updating my personal database of information and will share more in the old blog starting next week. There's plenty of new stuff out there to discuss, but my focus will be on how well things play with others. We'll see what I learn.
Got a question you want answered while I'm at the show? A comment below could help.