Breaking the Digital Frontier in Agriculture with Mobile Apps
There was a time when technology and agriculture were at the opposite ends of the value chain spectrum. Not anymore. Today, not only do we have ample evidence to substantiate the role of technology in agriculture but also point to its irrevocable dependency in farming operations.
As we’ll see in this article, 21st-century farmers cannot be considered progressive if they don’t use modern technology in agriculture, vis-a-vis mobile apps.
How Mobile Seeped into Agriculture?
Thanks to the scale of unprecedented, accelerated industrial development, agricultural apps have found cross-fit applications for every step of the food production supply chain. Human-rendered climate issues, naturally occurring soil erosion, fertilizer induced mineral depletion, and the downgrading of the water table are some of the visible forces impacting agriculture.
Since the problems are interconnected, so should be the guided means to resolve them. Once you factor this into consideration, it isn’t inconceivable to see technology and agriculture growing closer to each other.
Modern farming technology varies in terms of the application by nature of the development level of a country. You are more probable to see agricultural apps being used by food traders/suppliers in developing countries as farm management is driven by manual labor. Whereas in developed countries where on-farm activities are machine-driven, farmers have acclimatized themselves to using apps for agriculture.
They realize the value addition with ground results that immediately materialize with apps for farming that offer resource optimization, time-saving, soil nurturing, and more.
Benefits of Mobile Apps for Farmers
The expanding reach of technology in agriculture can be observed all around us and its positive impact is quite palpable.
Apps for farming act as an information enabler in geographies with poor ICT infrastructure. With smartphones getting affordable by the minute, marginal farmers can download and learn from ready-to-use practical guides along with accessing active channels to purchase relevant tools.
For those with considerable farm holdings, large scale sensors can be installed on the field whose collective data can be accessed through app dashboards. The analysis could include information as per the nature of sensors such as vulnerable patches for pest infestation, a failing batch of crops, and nutrient deficiency among others.
Geographical Information Systems (GIS) can be used through a mobile compatible app that can educate farmers on soil management practices to optimize crop production.
Trends for Farming Apps Proliferation
Smart agriculture is a widening movement that throws light on how farmers aim to reform crop yields and returns. It brings to fore the much glocal (global + local) role that ICT will play as part of upscaling the business positives of farming. Product sales powered by consumer demand point to the billion-dollar market size that will continue to head up.
Any attempt to transfer the regenerative power, not only of crops but also profits, back into the hands of farmers must begin at the most widely reachable point for all, mobile phones. With the computing power of desktops stuffed into handsets, enterprise businesses can easily launch apps for agriculture that target niche areas.
One such area of smart farming that piques both the farmer and investor interest in this field in precision farming. It employs the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data Analytics to overcome traditional shortcomings such as labor shortage, unpredictable weather, and harvesting times. Exploring the variety of solutions of such modern technology used in agriculture, we can see the opportunity scope for apps.
Types of Apps in Farming
Based on applications, mobile application development for farming can engineer the following types of solutions:
Peer-to-Peer Information Sharing
Mobile app development can be steered to create information-sharing groups for a closed knit community of farmers. Since the soil conditions range from one place to another, democratizing information flows can benefit everyone.
Online Lending for Farmers
An app could be farming cum financial in nature where not just information, but the financial assistance in the form of loans could be disbursed. It could even create an e-commerce marketplace where access to inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and on-demand labor is provided.
B2B Farming Store
Providing an auctioning platform where food producers could get justified prices is highly opportunistic. Provided you have a strong network of farmers subscribed to the platform, food procuring businesses could save crucial time and energy by submitting bids and winning the auction at the same time offering farmers handsome prices.
Weather Forecasting Apps
Many open sources for weather information utilize government satellite data as well as the publicly available history of geographic records to predict changes. You can take this a step up. The in-built gyroscope and barometer in mobile devices can be used to gather the information that helps in weather forecasting.
The human eye can barely make out the difference in ground levels and assume the landscape to be naturally flat. It gets impossible to study top-soil conditions once the crop foliage grows beyond a certain extent. GPS trackers can guide farmers to target specific parts for leveling. Geo-fencing can study a selected region of crops and share key performance indicators to optimize yields. Tech can also be used to precisely plow furrows.
Livestock Management Apps
Custom application development is tailor-made for livestock farms. The software can be used to register, process, and suggest the scope of improvement at every step of the operation. Farms can be classified as per their business model that ranges from breeding, feedlots, and dairies, to industrial meat processors. Such apps can digitize farm management chores and save big monies.
Plausible Features of Farming Apps
Based on the above classification we can surmise a list of features that are conventionally suited to farming apps. Please note this is just an implied checklist and not a set-in-stone word.
The commercial drone segment is one that packs a punch with promises of heavy returns. In the US alone, agriculture stakes claim to a considerable allotment of drone installations. Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles open up a multitude of scope for automation and time consumption. They can be used for field vigilance, precision spraying, and pest detection. Mounting them with thermal cameras can even help farmers assess water spillage, and or excessive damping from drip irrigation. Drone sync and remote control through apps would surely be a feature much wanted/appreciated by farmers.
Chatbots – where human answered or machine answered contribute greatly to a business growth story. It is a fundamental feature of any app that aims to establish a two way line with the customers. Be it local farming networks or advisory services, a chat window would encourage farmers to openly discuss pressing issues or report new findings about anything farming. If not human-aided, answers could be pre-fed to the app with the free-mium app model offering expert interaction on a pay as you go basis.
Machine Vision & Cloud Storage Support
That plain old video conferencing isn’t fascinating at all. Anybody with a Google Duo, WhatsApp or a Skype Mobile could video call for free. What’ll take this feature to the platinum standard would be real-time image processing coupled with machine learning. Software developers refer to it as machine vision. Farmers should be able to upload images, processing which the AI-powered backend could point to an impending pest invasion still not ripe enough to surface. The uninitiated farmer could put the crops under a scanner (literally) and take requisite measures to salvage what is left of it.
Since the profit margins are scanty for most farmers, it is not a surprise that they are averse to casual experimentation with their choice of crops. But when they do give in to temptation, wouldn’t it be convenient to have a ready-to-apply encyclopedic guide for different crops. Dedicating a section of your farming app to good-to-know information will immensely benefit first-time growers of a crop. More importantly, if they reap handsome profits you would attract organic attention from others vis-a-vis word of mouth referrals. If you can list high-rated agricultural products along with trusted distributors and their contact information then all the more better.
The last feature could work best for a directory, but what if you plan to create a full-fledged ecommerce application. In that case, you would have to enable the app to process payments through a gateway.
Earlier, we mentioned an app to help farmers judge the weather and it’s working mechanism. If not a standalone application, you can still integrate it as a side-feature of a larger app. Although you would have to hire an app development agency to accomplish an all-inclusive mobile app with peripheral features that impact farming big time, yet the effort would be worth it.
As a multi-award winning mobile app development company, we at Appinventiv understand our social responsibility and agree that somethings are better viewed from a moral compass. Yes, our responsibility to our stakeholders comes first, wherein we continue doing ground-breaking work in emerging technologies to this day. In fact, you can explore it right here.
Nevertheless, every once in a while we take up projects to do our bit towards the community, and nothing like working for the very people who make it possible for us to enjoy a loaf of bread. If you’ve read through the lines, we’d be waiting to hear from you.