In my day if someone said, "Get me an app," I would have headed for the apple tree. If you hear it today and the person is 25 years old or younger, you can be 100% sure they're not talking about Red Delicious apples. They're talking about 'apps' that you can download from the Apple or Google store on your phone or other device. It lets them do all kinds of things.
I was forking out manure from sheep pens in a barn too small to get the tractor and loader into with my daughter, Kayla, 19. I soon noticed there was music playing. It also dawned on me that there was no radio in the barn.
"Kayla, where is that music coming from?" I asked.
"Oh, it's from my phone," she said.
"Your phone? How did you manage that?" I retorted.
"It's an app, dad, you know…"
No, I don't know – or at least I didn't know until then.
"So are you on one radio station or what?" I continued, now curious about why I was listening to what was supposed to be country music. It sounded different when I was her age.
"No, it's just an app that plays country music, not any one station," she noted.
I accepted that until a group of commercials came on, and some were for local stores in Indianapolis, the biggest city near us. "How does it do that?" I asked.
"I don't know dad, it just does," she said. Her tone said just accept it and enjoy the music.
"Was it a free app or are you paying for this?" I asked. She's a college student, and someone has to watch out for her finances.
"It's free of course," she said. After all, kids are used to getting apps free, not paying for them.
"Wouldn't it be neat to have an app that could run this pitch fork and clean out the barn," I said.
"Oh yeah, dad, that would be neat," she chuckled, looking at me as if I was some weirdo.
After I thought about it, maybe I'm a weirdo, maybe not. I could envision a robot with a pitch fork, and an app on your phone sending it signals as to what to do. If it was equipped with GPS, it would know where to fork, and where to put the manure on the loader bucket. Some signal would tell it when the bucket was full. I could just sit on the tractor and watch.
OK, sounds crazy, right? Consider these things. What would a farmer in 1930 have thought if you had told him by 2014, the average corn yield would be nearly 180 bushels per acre in Indiana? What would a farmer in 1950 have thought if you told him he could soon park his cultivators and still have no weeds in the field?
What would a farmer in 1985 have thought if you told him within 10 years he could spray Roundup on soybeans and throw away his hand wick for glyphosate? What would a farmer in 1990 have said if you told him in fewer than five years he could measure yields in his combine, and know from where exactly in the field they came?
What about the farmer in 1999 who actually said, "I will never have auto-steer in my lifetime," and two years later was running auto-steer in tractors and combines?
You get my drift? My idea might be far out, but far-out ideas have come true before. Maybe I should patent the robotic pitch fork idea now….you know, Kayla, just in case!