Managers and owners on the largest of U.S. dairies use these apps on a daily basis to manage their dairy farms.
USA Today recently reported that 94% of U.S. farmers now own a smartphone. Given how essential smart devices are in everyday life, it is interesting to know which apps (software applications) dairy producers consider essential. The key to a successful app is the balance between ease of use and usefulness of the information. I surveyed managers and owners of 100 of the largest U.S. dairies to find out what apps they have on their phones and which ones they use on a daily basis.
Overwhelmed by dairy data?
DairyComp from Valley Ag Software is the most widely used farm data app, estimated to be used in 60% of U.S. herds, for managing data on more than 4 million U.S. cows. Despite a lot of new entrants in this market, over half of the producers who replied said they had it downloaded on their smart devices.
Projecting farm profitability
According to Zisk App, the app is already being used by owners of more than 3 million dairy cows, so it is not surprising this free app was mentioned by more dairy producers than any other app. The Zisk app allows dairy producers to calculate their enterprise’s profitability today and for the next 12 months. Zisk is free for download on iPhones or Android devices.
Babel of languages on the farm
The multinational and multilingual nature of today’s U.S. farms makes the use of Google Translator an invaluable addition to a mobile phone. Many U.S. farms function essentially in Spanish and require their managers to learn the language, but translations apps can ease the challenge. The next step would be a dairy-specific translation software, but unfortunately, it doesn’t exist – yet.
Tracking the markets
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange CME app allows producers to access the pricing of dairy futures and options in real time. Dairy producers who need to lock in future dairy inputs and outputs in very volatile markets have access to the world’s largest commodity exchange online, making this another popular download for dairies.
Know the weather in your neck of the woods?
In a business where the weather is a key parameter, it is not surprising that a wide range of weather apps seem to dominate dairy producers' devices. Wunderground is the favorite choice offering a one-click accurate prediction of local weather in real time. While many dairy-focused websites include weather news in order to get more visitors, it seems many dairy producers still prefer to have a specialized app to get the weather for their locale.
What else do farmers have on their smart devices?
For messaging, WhatsApp is quickly displacing other messaging systems and becoming more popular than texting. Indeed, anecdotal experience and my own experience would question the value of using email to reach producers, or indeed traditional mail, as most vendors say response levels are low. Favorite news apps are as expected: Fox, CNN, Wall Street Journal and Twitter being the most mentioned. Technology management apps such as Teamviewer or Splash streamer make it possible to see all the dairy’s computer display screens on a smartphone or other device, while Milk Secure monitors milk tanks. Manure pit checking apps were also mentioned. Farms who have installed sensors, robots and cameras are generally provided with an app to manage the data from these devices; Cainthus was the most often mentioned for this. One producer mentioned using MobilePatrol to connect to law enforcement, both to make background checks before hiring easier and as a way to track employees’ criminal records after hiring in order to know if someone has had an issue with law officers as soon as it happens.
So what is the future? Like everything in farming, consolidation is inevitable. One example is EverAg, a group which over a short period of time has acquired Dairy.com, Mydairydashboard.com, Mr.Milkman, EFC Systems, Partners for Production Agriculture and Cainthus. Can all of these different data sources be captured on one app? Using the type of data that groups like EverAg have access to enables farmers to combine milk management, farm management, data from sensors, commodity markets, advice and enterprise management, and make better management decisions. Milc group and Vyla (backed by Nestle and Land O'Lakes) are two groups who are providing platforms which combine information from multiple dairy devices in an agnostic way.
Clearly the success of apps in our everyday life is spreading on-farm. Our smartphones reflect the same.
September 28, 2022