Tech Tuesday

Making One Last Data Check

As equipment rolls in earnest it's time to recall just how all that stuff works. Oh, and another iPad is on the way.

I realize that in parts of the country planters have been rolling already, but as we take a bead in putting up to 94 million acres of corn in the ground (pick your own estimate) there's a lot to do, including making sure those data reading and collecting tools are working.

Talk to anyone who supports precision farming tools, no matter what stripe, and the early spring season is a time when many of the service calls really do revolve around "now how do I turn this thing on?" We're all smarter than that, but even veteran users of a technology have to call up the memory of how to start, calibrate and use those tools.

When planting was more a matter of making sure the finger pickups were tuned, or the vacuum system was hitting the right pressures, those mechanical tasks were pretty easy to remember. Today, you not only have to remember to replace planter brushes, but check the wire harness and update the software in the cab.

This year, as you start gearing up for the busy season, keep in mind that real-time information you're gathering has more potential for managing your business than ever before. Collecting clean data on product use, from herbicides to seeds, and rolling that data back into your accounting and management systems can give you a leg up on digging out all the profits and costs of your operation.

Yet it all starts with firing up the monitor in the tractor cab and making sure the antenna is getting a signal (or actually all its signals from satellites and that differential data). Getting those A/B lines and starting points updated from machine to machine takes time too.

Good luck this season, and be safe. And if there are data capture ideas, or tips you use on your operation to improve this process, share them here in the comments section. I'm sure dear reader that you have come up with a range of little tips and tricks that could help another if you shared it here.

Tablet Tale

Tomorrow - March 7 - Apple Computer is having a little media gathering in California. For those of you who have been eyeing a tablet computer there are two ways to go. First, you might get a great deal on an iPad 2, since prices started falling last week on word of the Apple event (rumored to be the new iPad 3 or whatever they call it).

That first move isn't bad, since the iPad 2 is a nice machine (bought my wife one for her birthday last year and she loves it). The versatile machine is a popular product and this second-generation machine has plenty of speed, a camera and other tools you can use.

Or, you can wait for the announcement, and get your order in based on what you hear about the newest tool. I will update this blog with as much information as I can find by Thursday morning to give you more info on that - if you're thinking about a tablet computer.

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