Tech Tuesday

Tablet Wars Heat up for 2011

iPad had the market basically to itself last year, but you'll have plenty of choices for 2011. And tillage choice cuts your carbon footprint...really.

One computing tool of interest in the business world is the tablet computer - like the iPad. And for 2010, the iPad was basically the key choice. As the year wound down the Samsung Galaxy Tab hit the market, but that's just the beginning.

During the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, a range of products were shown that will be coming onto the market during 2011 and it looks like competitors are gunning for Apple. Of course, they've tried that before (Zune anyone?).

The tablet that got the most attention is the new XOOM from Motorola, makers of the first successful cell phone to use the Android operating system (the Droid); Motorola will launch the machine in the first quarter of this year (think March).

Based on the newest version of the Android operating system the XOOM will play Flash graphics (unlike the iPad), opening more website for your use. It also features a camcorder, front- and rear-facing cameras for video chats and a fast processor. The 3.0 Honeycomb operating system from Android is specifically made to work with tablet computers as well.

What does it mean? If you're thinking about a tablet computer it might be worth doing a little shopping...and waiting. The new iPad is either coming out in February or April - depending on what you read - and will have a lot of new features as well. And if you wait for that newest version before doing comparison shopping you'll be comparing apples to apples.

A tablet computer allows you to browse the Web, keep up on email, create documents and do other productive work. However, it won't replace a full laptop for downloading yield maps or managing accounting files...yet. But this is a growing area of technology you may want to watch (and we'll watch it for you too).We're already seeing companies including Kinze and Pioneer using the iPad at trade shows to provide information or take customer data.

The fast boot-up speed, the smaller, lighter design, and the clear screens offered have made these tools more popular than ever before. If you're using a tablet on your farm drop me an e-mail, I would enjoy talking with you about how you use it. Just send a note to [email protected].

Strip-Till, Banded N Cut Carbon Footprint

U.S. agriculture practices created about 58% of the world's nitrous oxide, according to some measures. Nitrous oxide is the third most prevalent greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and some scientists believe it contributes to global warming about 300 times more than carbon dioxide.

Researchers at the University of Missouri have found a way to help farmers reduce those emissions while pumping up corn yields. They've found that strip tillage and banded fertilizer can significantly cut the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per bushel of corn production when compared to surface no-till treatments. By planting corn into the strips and adding fertilizer at planting, farmers also use less energy, cut soil erosion and save soil moisture. And the nitrogen stays in the soil where it's less likely to be lost.

This research is just another piece of information to help you select which management options you can use to boost production while cutting the environmental impact of nitrogen fertilizer.

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