The Smart way of doing paperwork from the paddock
Concerns on cost and sturdiness still persist but farmers see advantages of keeping up with their business while on the go
Smartphones are plastered everywhere these days. The ads on TV show all the cool kids checking out their Facebook pages and ordering pizzas, but does this latest generation of telephones have any relevance for the farmer?
The answer appears to be a resounding 'yes' from those farmers who have already switched. Not only are farmers finding themselves doing more and more business via email, they also find themselves expected to monitor price movements, grass growth, milk solids and weather changes to name but a few. Many are now finding that the only way to do this, without being stuck in front of a computer all day, is to embrace a smartphone.
The four main concerns that most farmers have regarding the switch relate to the price of the phone, the cost of the bills, the sturdiness and their suitability for strong-but-not-so-nimble farming fingers.
In the past few months, the prices of even the 'must-have' iPhone have gone way down to the point they are selling for roughly the same price as any mobile phone was costing three or four years ago. The price you pay depends on how much you spend on your phone bill each month but for most farmers who tend to spend €45-50 a month, a smartphone such as the Blackberry Curve can be got for as little as €50.
Some of the more fashionable models, such as the iPhone4, will cost as much as €280 at a monthly spend of €45 with Vodafone. But, as ever, there are a range of prices and phones between these two extremes. Bear in mind that add-ons, such as insurance, can add an extra €120 a year, while protective covers, which are becoming standard for most outdoor users, can cost an extra €25.
Most farmers that I've talked to have noticed no difference in their phone bills since they switched to smartphones. The big difference in fact is that the user is actually getting the benefit using the data they have often been paying for already.