I really need to keep up on local farm news better because I was almost a month late in finding out about the IFarmer:Inventory app. Invented by Kiwi farmer Dan Smith, and advertised by Telecom, IFarmer is:

“The complete mobile inventory management solution for farmers and live stock agents. Real-time farm management, inventory control and reconciliation from the convenience of your mobile phone. Record and report on sales and purchases of stock, keep track of their locations, add notes, photos and other attachments. Export to desktop and farm accounting software.”

Most interesting for my research, Smith explains in the video above how the app can help farmers take care of the day-to-day requirements imposed by the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) programme and, in a further combination of technological determinism and everyday pragmatism, he explains that smartphones are “the way the world will be forced to go,” and “implore[s] people to jump on the bandwagon very quickly.”

A Dominion Post article also tells a good story about how such “grassroots” technologies come to life:

“Dan is a sheep, beef and cropping farmer and works seven different blocks within South Wairarapa and Carterton districts with mobs of stock scattered across the whole operation. He makes up to three or four transactions a day, which can be a bit of a nightmare, keeping track of all the details. It requires double and even triple entering figures into notebooks out in the field, which can be messy and inefficient.

He knew there must be a better way.

While Dan admits he is no computer guru, he has always been reasonably technologically savvy and he thought it must be possible to develop a phone application for farmers to keep track of inventory, animal health requirements and locations of mob groups, among other things. He started formulating the initial concepts on hard copy in August last year and, after much difficulty finding people with the right expertise, he employed software developers from a couple of New Zealand companies, PixelThis in Palmerston North and Simworks in Auckland, to construct the app to his specifications.”

Last month Canadian farming news site Alberta Farmer Express published an article on The Rise of the iFarmer, which focusses on smartphone apps that simply provide information on markets and weather. What seems to make the IFarmer app unique is the ability for farmers to easily input stock information and reconcile it instantly.

“Ifarmer is designed to be ancillary support to standard accounting software that most in the industry would have on their desktops already. For technology like this to be successful, it has to be straightforward to use. Dan has been conscious that farmers have to be able to get their heads around it without too much effort. Though the app he has designed has multiple features, its navigation is simple and remarkably easy to use. Dan demonstrated the input process on the farm and he even smeared his hand with dirt and water and showed that his iPhone had no problem interpreting his commands.”

Now, I wonder if it’s worth the $50 to see how IFarmer actually works, and how long it will be until similar apps appear?