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Published September 10, 2013, 06:47 PM

Farming goes mobile

West Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Farmers are always exploring new technologies to grow and harvest crops more efficiently.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

West Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Farmers are always exploring new technologies to grow and harvest crops more efficiently.

Now, add mobile technology to that list, as more and more people use phones and tablets to manage their farms anytime, anywhere.

Big Iron is known for showcasing the latest and greatest in farm technology.

That includes one local company helping farmers go mobile; even steering a tractor with a simple phone app.

Just as mobile technology has changed how we communicate in our day-to-day lives, it's also changing how farms operate.

Take for example, "Virtual Farm Manager," a cell phone and tablet app that instantly and automatically stores field coverage information.

Justin Bachman- Virtual Farm Manager: "You have your phone in your cab and you can track what has been covered."

It's a new kind of farming technology called "telematics," accessing information on the farm from a mobile device.

Fewer than five percent of farmers use it, but experts expect it will catch on quickly.

John Nowatzki- NDSU Extension Service: "You can see if your tractors are moving, and if they are operating correctly."

And that is just the tip of the possibilities.

The creators of Virtual Farm Manager are preparing to release another app that uses a cell phone to autosteer tractors and other machinery.

Autosteer devices sell for $5,000 on the low end, while the app will cost about $1,000 for a small box placed in the cab plus $400 a year for the subscription.

Bachman: "It is very cost effective and convenient to have just a cell phone rather than a giant piece of machinery."

The Virtual Farm Manager Autosteer app is set to be released this winter.

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