In the exploding world of smartphone apps, Paul Muyres hopes a new Internet web-based service he has developed will help farmers sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to finding agriculture apps that are useful and really do what they’re supposed to do in terms of helping with farm management and crop production.
Muyres, an Edmonton-area crop consultant, has developed a website called www.agriapps.ca. Agriapps.ca provides access to agriculturally-related apps will be found.
Muyres also has technical services to help anyone with a good app idea to develop an application; he also plans to offer a farmer- or peer-reviewed screening service, so that if a farmer sees an app on agriapps.ca website they can have reasonable confidence that it really does work.
“It is just a very confusing market out there when producers are looking for cell phone apps that are supposedly designed to help them with farm management and crop production,” says Muyres who owns the consulting service Solid Ground Solutions. “You go on the Internet and you can spend hours looking, and still not find what you want, or you find apps and wonder if they really work.”
A quick Google search of the terms “agricultural” and “farm apps” turns up hundreds of links to potential app websites that include everything from supposedly useful farm management tools to a wide range of games that involve zombies or Smurfs.
“What I would like agriapps.ca to become is a verified warehouse of useful agricultural apps from all companies or individual developers,” he says. “And I will be working to implement an evaluation system, so that if an app is listed there producers know it does do with it supposed to do.”
For anyone fairly new to the apps world, “App” is short for “application” — which is another name for a computer program designed to operate on smartphones and tablet computers. Apps can let a phone or tablet do almost anything that the programmers can imagine, within the technical limitations of the device.
Apple’s iPhone was the first smartphone to use apps. Now, reportedly more than 500,000 apps for business, social and personal applications have been developed for the iPhone alone. Competitors such as Blackberry, Windows, Nokia and other more generic smartphone platforms known as Android systems, all are now capable of running apps.
Existing agriculture apps (or applications) have been designed to give producers hand-held, out-in-the-field access to a wide range of farm management tools. Apps have been designed for field sprayer guides, sprayer nozzle selection, field mapping, field scouting, networking with machinery and other farmers, weed management, seed selection, soil sampling, grain handling, crop rotation planning, marketing, and farm fuel budgeting to name a few.
“The key is to first find the app that you want or at least have easy access to a site where you can see what apps have been developed and may be of value,” says Muyres. “Apps aren’t particularly expensive. Some are free, and others may range from $1 to $4, but the key is to first find the app and then find one that really works. That’s why I think it is important to have farmers testing and reviewing these apps and providing feedback on how well they work. The idea behind this website is to filter out the noise and showcase the ones that are viable.”
Muyres is open to anyone company or individual who would like to list their app on the website and also interested in helping anyone with a “great app idea” to develop new apps. For more information visit www.agriapps.ca. †