Business Farming

Friday 29 August 2014

From mapping to the weather – five apps to make life easier

They're ready to download straight away

Adrian Weckler

Published 25/09/2013 | 05:00

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Kieran Comerford, acting CEO of Carlow County Enterprise Board, pictured with Anne Brady, Jessica Zaffino,  Amanda Webb, Lorna Sixsmith (We Teach Social), who are among the 16 Carlow companies showcasing their business at the National Ploughing Championships. We Teach Social will be teaching farmers how to tweet throughout the three days.
Kieran Comerford, acting CEO of Carlow County Enterprise Board, pictured with Anne Brady, Jessica Zaffino, Amanda Webb, Lorna Sixsmith (We Teach Social), who are among the 16 Carlow companies showcasing their business at the National Ploughing Championships. We Teach Social will be teaching farmers how to tweet throughout the three days.

Smartphones offer a plethora of handy apps for farmers. Here are five to download straight away.

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1 Mapping tools – Ever found yourself wondering how many acres are in that section of a field you've just fenced off or planted up? You could estimate it by stepping it out, but irregular margins make this impossible much of the time. And yet farmers are expected to have every application of fertiliser and seed or allocation of grass down to the nearest decimal place.

Help is at hand. Area calculators, or mapping apps, use your phone's in-built GPS. Both Measure Map (iPhone, €1.80) and Map Tools (Android, €1) allow you to accurately plot, calculate and store any plot you want. Furthermore, the apps also offer distance and perimeter calculations.

2 Bubble Level (Android, free) – For a professional tradesman, nothing quite matches the pinpoint accuracy of a physical spirit level. However, for a farmer whose work routine only occasionally calls for the use of such a measuring device, this app works well. Its key attraction over rivals is that it is ad-free and thus does not require an internet signal to work.

3 Flashlight HD LED (Android, free) – Now that iPhones are getting a built-in torch feature with iOS7, Android users will be looking for something similar. There are lots of free choices available. Flashlight HD LED is a decent one, optimising your camera's LED flash to act as a torch. While this is nowhere near as powerful as a proper battery-powered torch, it's handy for examining something up close in dark corners at a moment's notice.

4 Yahoo Weather (iPhone, Android, free) – There are a gazillion weather apps out there, but few are styled as practically as Yahoo's new weather app. In addition to a five-day forecast, it gives a detailed breakdown of the next five hours' weather in a specific location. It also gives you a current satellite image of the country, as well as a layered wind or temperature map.

5 iFarm.ie (iPhone, Android, web, free) – Technically, you don't really need to download this from one of the native app stores (although you can).

It actually functions as a 'web app', meaning that you're really accessing it from a web browser (like Chrome or Safari) rather than within a native app.

Still, the app's strength here lies mainly in its guidance to up-to-date information, including sector prices and inputs.

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