By Diandra Oliver
Agriculturalists and farmers rejoice! You are celebrated for being at the forefront of technology use since the dawn of time. You are resourceful and can always make something out of nothing. Maybe it’s because you always have supplies on hand to fix that thing, or because, in a pinch, you can change your day around for a surprise birthing. You can even push a neighbour’s vehicle out of the ditch with your own two hands, and yet, getting a crop plan out of your memory and into a recurring App on your tablet is kind of a pain, if it works at all. Maybe the thought of reaching your customers via your Facebook page instead of at the Farmer’s Market might be completely foreign to you, but bringing technology that works for you and fits with your business on the farm is actually pretty easy and low-cost too!
Picking Technology that Works for You
In northern BC, the image of a farmer tracing their fields on a tractor, iPad in hand, is almost laughable. It’s hard to track field data when there’s no internet signal or the expensive farm management software you purchased does not have up-to-date GPS maps of your land. Before you go forward with adopting a new technology, device or program for your farm business it’s first important to assess your business needs, your own skills and your access to devices themselves. Use our handy Self Assessment Tool as a guide to determine which of your farm activities need support and what tools and resources you have available to make them better with technology.
Getting the Right Hardware
Once you have an idea about the kinds of programs you want to use, it’s important to consider your access to devices and internet service. Across northern BC, every community has a different service provider (satellite, dial-up, high speed, at the library only, great cell service, etc) and a different store or technician to get computer equipment or mobile devices from. Getting your hands on well priced, durable and adaptable technologies is not as hard as it seems. Take some time to do some research (www.cnet.com), ask your friends and neighbours about what they like best and use often. Figuring out what works within your budget and can get more than one job done will save you lots of time, money and frustration in the long run.
Using Programs that Make Your Life Easier
There’s a fine balance between choosing a small business or farm management program that meets your needs, works on the devices you have and with the internet connection you have and is both easy to use and adaptable. Here is a list of our favourite technologies to get you started. Most are free or low-cost and relatively easy to get along with. Taking initiative to get one or a few of these up and running with your farm business can go a long way in reducing your load, giving you just a bit more time to do some other things you love.