16 essential farming apps for 2014

Smart phones have revolutionised how farmers run their businesses, with apps doing anything from identifying weeds to recording and managing grazing platforms.

There’s an amazing array of apps on the market now and we’ve highlighted some of the most useful apps covering arable, livestock and general apps which are useful to all farmers.

The list is by no means exhaustive, so if you know of an essential app we haven’t covered; add your comments to the article below.

Bayer Weed Spotter

What does it do?

“Assessing nutrient deficiency actually in the field is very difficult, but this app is great at making it much easier,”Andrew Martin, Norfolk

Using an extensive image library this app helps visually identify nutrient deficiencies in crops. It is specially designed to allow a simple and fast identification during in-field crop assessments.

Each image describes the symptoms of the deficiency and the reasons for it. Users will be given information on the importance of the deficiencies and possible scenarios, which can increase the likelihood of it occurring.

It also contains a search facility for identifying observed symptoms and provides solutions that the farmer can then implement on his crop.

Best for:

Identifying nutrient deficiencies in cereals

Who makes it:

Yara

Price:

Free

Available on:

iOS, Android and Windows Mobile

mySoil

What does it do?

“It contains some great information. I think most farmers know the basic about their soil types but this gives you a bit extra. It’s also just very good for looking at neighboring soils or any land you might be looking at investing in”Alistair Fox, Devon

Soil is key to every arable farmer so understanding as much as possible about the soil on your farm is vital. This app allows growers to map soil across the UK including their on their own farm.

Users are able to retrieve descriptions of soil depth, texture, pH, soil temperature, organic matter content and dominant habitats across the UK by navigating around a detailed map.

This aids growers and advisors in assessing the fertility potential and physical qualities of the land. Any information retrieved may also be saved as a new record for future reference.

Best for:

Identifying soils types in your area

Who makes it:

British Geological Survey

Price:

Free

Available on:

iOS devices

iLevel

What does it do?

“Amazing device – makes my life so much easier to manage from where ever using the app on my phone. The peace of mind and tank security is simple yet effective. Genius”Paul Rix, Cambridgeshire

iLevel is a remote monitoring system that uses telemetry to allow farmers to keep a check on the contents of any bulk storage tank in “real time”, from any location.

It can act as a management tool for keeping control on stocks of all liquids on farms while also providing security benefits.

Once any liquid is delivered into the tank, users are able to keep track of how much has been delivered and then if the contents change at any point.

This will not only will alert owners to unauthorised removal, but also if there is a leak, which will help protect precious stocks and quickly prevent a pollution incident.

Best for:

Increasing security on tanks across the farm

Who makes it:

iLevel

Price:

Free

Available on:

iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry

BASF Cereal Disease ID App

What does it do?

“With disease pressure looking to be high this Spring the App and it’s extensive library of very specific symptoms and quality pictures will come in particularly handy helping to identify some of the more tricky to differentiate stem and root diseases in the field.”Ed Brooks – Agronomist, Oxfordshire

The app is based the popular HGCA and BASF Encyclopedia of Cereal Diseases allowing farmers quick and easy mobile access to information on 36 key cereal diseases to aid identification.

Recognition of the disease, and an understanding of the pathogen(s) responsible, is the first step in successful disease control. Users are able to search by pathogen, common name or a text search.

Symptoms of both common and less frequently found diseases are illustrated and described, together with an outline of the disease cycle of the pathogen and an indication of the importance of the disease.

Any information is then available to email to and address of the users choice. New updates have also made a weather function and a messaging service available on iPhone and android platforms.

Best for:

Helping to identify cereal diseases while in the field

Who makes it:

BASF

Price:

Free

Available on:

iOS, Android, Blackberry

Stockmove Express

What does it do?

“It’s very easy to use. As soon as a calf is born I tag it and apply for its passport in the barn. I’ve always got it with me and you can update records there and then. I pay for the medicine recording and it’s great for farm assurance.”Nick Lambert, Hampshire – Runs a 100 cow suckler herd

Stock Move Express allows livestock farmers in the UK to update their sheep and cattle holding / herd register.

It is powered by the National Livestock Management Database (NLMD-LT), meaning everything recorded on the app can be viewed and managed online using any internet connected computer.

Farmers can record animal movements, births, deaths and replacements and medicine treatments, alongside additional comments.

All cattle births, movements and deaths can optionally be automatically forwarded to BCMS. The same data for sheep can be sent to ScotEID.

Shearwell are currently adding support for the forthcoming ARAMS Sheep & Goat movement database for English holdings.

Best for:

Time saving notification, recording and reporting of animal movements.

Who makes it:

Shearwell Data Animal Identification and Management Systems

Price:

Free for statutory movement, birth, death and tag replacement recording.
£50 a year (plus VAT) for new customers or £25 a year (plus VAT) for existing Shearwell Data customers for recording medicine book, treatments and animal comments.
3 month free trial available.

Available on:

Android

farmGRAZE

What does it do?

“Owning a farm and being able to save time on my record keeping is awesome. Being able to keep track of my livestock movement and being able to calculate the amount of grass I have in the field is another huge plus. This is a real app that fills a real need for my farm.”Jonathon Chase

Put together by farming experts at Aberystwyth University, farmGRAZE helps measure, record and manage the grazing platform.

Used regularly, it can improve the efficiency of fertiliser and feed use, boosting grazing efficiency and minimising waste for dairy cows, beef cattle and sheep.

Farmers can record grass sward height or kg DM/ha, type of grazing system and supplementary feeding activities with optional rising plate meter values.

An instant calculation is then made on the level of grazing in the field with advice on how to manage it. Reminders can also be easily set up in the phone calendar to check grass height.

Best for:

Managing grass quickly from anywhere on the farm.

Who makes it:

Aberystwyth University – App created by Arkuris

Price:

Free App for grass measurements and calculations.
£5.99 version also includes options to save records, plot grass wedge graphs, calculate instant grazing average, export data to email in a spreadsheet and use data with other software.

Available on:

iOS and Android

Total Bovine

What does it do?

“Farm assurance was my main reason for purchase. It’s so easy to keep the books nice and tight. I found the app particularly useful for recording individual treatments, you treat it, sync it and it’s all done.”Malcolm Cavill – Somerset (Runs a 40 cow suckler herd)

Designed to run with either Total Dairy or Total Beef management software.

This app enables new records to be taken wherever and whenever they happen. Operating off-line, data can be accessed at any time and only requires connection to Wi-Fi when synchronising with Total software on the computer.

Several devices on one farm can record new data or create action lists, all updating to the same main data set on the computer.

Farmers can see the full herd list, select animals by group, or view detailed individual records by searching any part of the identification tag.Previous history can be seen plus new events added for calvings, health treatments, bullings, weights, services, milk yields, pregnancy diagnoses and movements off farm.

Best for:

Works off-line and several devices can sync data onto a computer.

Who makes it:

Sum-IT Integrated agricultural software solutions

Price:

£95 a head a year (additional users available on a sliding discount scale)Software cost: from £345 (plus VAT)

Available on:

Android

Ross

What does it do?

“I mainly use it as a quick reference to the breed standards and it’s great that it’s just so easy to access this at my fingertips. Having the breed standards on my mobile mean that they are always with me and because of this it is available in the chicken house or in a meeting which is really useful.”Jonathan Waring – South West

Poultry farmers can quickly access the European Ross Performance Objectives (standards) for the Ross 308, 708 and PM3 breeder and broiler stock.

Users can view all sections of performance objectives or customise which fields are shown to suit requirements. These settings are stored for future viewing.

A built-in European Performance Efficiency Factor (EPEF) calculator shows liveability percentage, live weight in kg, age in days and feed conversion ratio to give you an EPEF result.

The conversion function combines the most common calculations used daily in one easy to use tool. A unit convertor incorporates industry-specific calculations such as area, length, volume, weight, energy (nutrition), pressure, stocking density, temperature, light and ventilation.

Best for:

Benchmarking against key breeder and broiler European standards.

Who makes it:

Aviagen – App created by Softlabs

Price:

Free

Available on:

iOS and Android

MooMonitor

What does it do?

“The MooMonitor app is a huge time saver for me because I have a heifer unit five miles away and it notifies me when a cow is in heat. It’s great, I get heat detection on the go.”Bev Baker – Usk (Has a 240 cow unit)

Data from Dairymaster’s heat detection collars is automatically sent to the farmer’s phone where the MooMonitor mobile app allows the data to be viewed directly and inform the farmer which cows are in heat.

It can alert the farmer to the 75% of heats that happen overnight. As these are often missed, production should be maximised.

The AI technician or dairy producer can remotely see data on one or many herds, 24 hours a day. The web app can be installed on a number of platforms including PC, mobile phone, iPad, iPod etc.

The conversion function combines the most common calculations used daily in one easy to use tool. A unit convertor incorporates industry-specific calculations such as area, length, volume, weight, energy (nutrition), pressure, stocking density, temperature, light and ventilation.

Best for:

24/7 remote monitoring and data transfer to identify cows in heat.

Who makes it:

Dairymaster

Price:

£0.00 for app
£2,500 for the base unit including software
£80 a collar

Available on:

iOS and Android

Met Office Weather

What does it do?

“The weather has been particularly unkind to farmers in recent months. The Met Office app really helps members plan harvest activities or when to move their livestock and make the very most of the best weather. Accurate and regularly updated forecasts are essential to farmers around the country.”Guy Gagen – NFU chief arable adviser

Downloaded by more than 4 million people so far, the app gives easy access to the most up to date and accurate, local weather forecasts and warnings, 24 hours a day, wherever you are in the UK.

The app has three-hourly forecasts, five-day predictions for approximately 5,000 UK locations and UV forecasts. You can use the map view to pan and zoom for more detailed regional information.

There’s also the option for six to 30-day written forecasts, which give a more general overview of what the weather will be doing over a longer timescale. In addition to the likelihood of rain or snow, sunshine, cloud coverage and temperature, it gives ‘feels like’ temperature.

The app also gives users access to Met Office severe weather warnings, enabling farmers to see the areas affected and view details of the warning including whether it is a yellow, amber or red warning and advice on what steps to take.

Social media sharing allows users to share forecasts with friends and family via Facebook, Twitter and email.

Best for:

Farmers and agricultural contractors who are working flat out and want instant access to the latest forecast to take advantage of every moment of dry weather.

Who makes it:

The Met Office

Price:

Free

Available on:

iOS and Android

WeatherPro

What does it do?

“I use this app to see what weather is coming your way. It gives you the latest satellite images of rainfall. It is really useful when you are out in the field spraying or drilling, especially when the weather is catchy and you need a bit of a dry window.”Guy Smith, Essex

WeatherPro is developed by Europe’s largest independent weather company and therefore offers high-quality, detailed weather forecasts.

WeatherPro features seven-day forecasts including temperature, wind direction and speed, and sunrise and sunset times.

Stunning weather maps, global satellite images with pan and zoom functionality, and worldwide alerts and warning levels for extreme weather truly make this the perfect weather app for those working in the outdoors.

WeatherPro Premium is also available, with subscribers benefiting from a wide range of extra features including hourly forecasts for two weeks ahead, radar forecasts, and lots more.

Social media sharing allows users to share forecasts with friends and family via Facebook, Twitter and email.

Best for:

Farmers who require detailed information about weather.

Who makes it:

MeteoGroup

Price:

iPhone £1.99, iPad £2.49, Android £2.49, Windows £2.29, Nokia £1.50 and Blackberry £2.00

Available on:

iOS and Android

Firestone Tyre Pressure Check (TPC)

What does it do?

“Well done Firestone! Easy to use and comprehensive. Will save me money on my fuel bills – and it’s free! Nice one!”App store review

It is essential that agricultural machines have their tyre pressures matched to the load and speed of the operation.

Using the Firestone app it’s a simple task to find the prescribed inflation pressure for any given load and speed.

The new generation of IF tyres is also included, and these can use the same low pressure whether on the road at high speed or at work in the field.

Best for:

It’s designed to give essential information quickly and easily. It works offline so functions where it’s needed; on the farm.

Who makes it:

Tyre giant Bridgestone/Firestone

Price:

Free

Available on:

iOS and Android

Gleadell Mobile

What does it do?

“Easy to use and the agricalculators are a nice feature to convert fertiliser nutrient to product.”Matt Redman (@redmannmatt) – Bedfordshire

Gleadell Agriculture Ltd is a major trader of grain in the UK and, in volatile and risk-laden markets, is a safe and trusted trading partner for farmers and consumers.

It is also the largest trader of organic grain in the UK and a growing force in the sourcing and delivery of imported and home-produced fertiliser and seed. Gleadell has developed a trimmed down version of its website to run on your iPhone. You’ll be able to use it to get the latest grain prices, news stories and market reports.

It also includes fertiliser price trends, product information and varieties, nitrogen calculators, a seed calculator, access to Gleadell’s Xtralite System and links to Twitter.

Best for:

Farmers who require a good framework for quick access to market prices both at home and abroad.

Who makes it:

Breeze IT Nottingham

Price:

Free

Available on:

iOS, Android and Blackberry

Agrovista Store List Stor

What does it do?

“I have used the contacts list and the chemical store list a few times now and it’s nice to have it all in your pocket. Would be great to be able to sort the chemical store list by different means such as date entered, quantities or in alphabetical order. Otherwise it’s great and really like the export feature.”Kreesne

With over 2,400 official products from the official Chemical Regulation Directorate (CRD) Pesticide list integrated into the app, the store list will allow you to keep an up to date list of products and quantities in your chemical store.

This feature has been designed to allow farmers to add products to their list, edit the quantities, and delete them when used.

Another handy feature is the ability to export your store list in a tabular format (csv), this file can then be emailed and printed off for record keeping purposes.

If you have products that do not feature on the pesticide list we have added a feature to enter custom product names, this will allow you to keep a list of every product in your store. With the focus on ensuring good store management and rotation of stock this handy feature will do away with the need for hand written lists and ensure the list is on your phone at all times to view.

Other features

Agronomy news you can keep up to date with industry news and interesting articles from Agrovista. These articles are updated regularly so that you have the latest news at your fingertips.

The app also gives the ability to add custom notes, whether it is fertiliser applications, agronomy notes, harvest dates, you can save the notes which will appear in a list by date, you can even attach a picture from you phones camera if you want to note a particular feature or problem area.

Once your notes are saved they can be emailed from the app if there is a requirement for someone to see them.

The app includes an embedded calculator for seed and fertiliser rates and a store list, news and company contacts.

Best for:

A useful agricultural app which gives farmers the ability to stock check the chemical store with a built-in crop chemicals list.

Who makes it:

Agrovista

Price:

Free

Available on:

iOS and Android

John Deere GoHarvest app

What does it do?

“This app could be useful if it supported previous series combines since there are so many out there. JD could easily include this reference data which probably isn’t much different.”Nvboom – App store review

The GoHarvest mobile phone app allows operators to optimise their combine easily and always have the recommended John Deere settings to hand.

The GoHarvest application gives combine operators the ability to optimise their machine as they enter the harvest season. Operators choose the model of combine – W, T or S-series – and crop type. It then suggests initial settings for the selected crop both inside the cab and around the machine using a series of straightforward menus, tips and yes/no options, illustrated by clear photographs and diagrams.

GoHarvest also features a notes section and photo functionality to give combine operators a premium experience when setting their machine. GoHarvest is also a great guide to use in field for settings changes as conditions differ, and to document changes made to settings during harvest.

In addition to the combine settings, the app also allows the user to improve performance by focusing on specific machine areas and evaluating losses.

Best for:

Helping farmers who own the latest John Deere combine harvesters to set up and optimise their machines during harvest.

Who makes it:

John Deere

Price:

Free

Available on:

iOS and Android