Innovate your own App

Farmer IpadIn Paul Harvey’s “So God made a Farmer” speech he says “I (God) need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make a harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps.” Mr. Harvey is talking about the resourceful and innovative nature of the American farmer. A trait born out of need.

In the 2010’s we are still in need of self-generated innovation but not just with physical objects, in technology as well. Since Silicon Valley isn’t focused on solving the information problems of agriculture we are often left to do it ourselves. And now we can create our own apps easily with Google Drive.

Google Drive is a suite of online apps that includes a word processor, presentation software, and spreadsheet program. But most importantly Google Drive provides a app called Forms. Forms allows you collect data of any kind in the field and deliver it to a spreadsheet for further calculation and analysis. Once the information is in the spreadsheet you can do just about anything with it that you can do in Excel on your desktop.

For this year’s wheat planting I created a Google Form that logged the planting and automatically calculated the seed rates. Each time my driver loaded the drill he would grab an iPad, open the form and start selecting options. I pre-populated the field numbers, varieties, and drill setting options in the form so all he had to do was pick from a list. Once he entered the number of bags and number of acres (which he gets from the GPS), he submits the form.

Inside the spreadsheet a formula calculates the pounds of seed per acre planted based on the bags & acres. Once the form is submitted the driver taps on the “results” tab to see how many pounds per acre he was putting out. He could then refer to another tab with our desired rates for each field and adjust accordingly.

Each form submission gets time stamped so we have a permanent record of when the fields were planted, what variety, the rate, how long it took, and the total seed used. Every time a form is submitted I get an email alert. This let’s me keep up with what is happening in the field.

This is one of many forms/spreadsheets we are currently developing for the farm and dairy. Others include, irrigation logs, spray rig calibration and log, field activity log, feed dry matter log, environmental compliance checklists, calf treatments, calf total protein, closeup Urine pH, body condition scoring, shaker box logging, heifer taping, and several others.

Farmers and dairymen are the most innovative people on earth, mostly because we have to be. If Paul Harvey were alive today I’m not sure he would include “build your own app by 8am” in his speech, but now you actually do that thanks to the free and easy Google Drive.

Google Drive could be used to create a cow management program for small herds. You can enter a cow number, pick from a list of events such as bred, vaccine, mastitis, dry, fresh, etc, add a comment, then submit. Once submitted you could filter the results by cow id, event, or date. Click here for a demo

Dairy Today – Tech Talk – Jan 2014

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