I’ve been dreaming about a smart phone, or a tablet, or some other time saving, connected device that would help me streamline my record keeping (no more little scraps of paper to lose!) and give me the ability to share more of the farm with you, the faithful reader (Look at that gorgeous spinach I’m ready to harvest for you! and boom, it’s on facebook). I’m sure there are also all sorts of apps out there that I would find useful, but here are three I would like someone to invent.
1. The Winter Planning App
There are a variety of crop planners out there, such as www.agsquared.com, which we use. Many of them just do for you what you could do with a calendar and a lot of free time. if I want to be able to harvest carrots on August 8, and they take 67 days to mature, then I count back 67 days to discover that I should plant them on June 1. The crop planner does the counting for me. But I want a crop planner that can go a step further. You see, I would like to grow more vegetables in the winter, but the cold temperatures and the shorter days mean that standard maturity rates are useless. That same carrot may take anywhere from 80-120 days to mature during the winter. I want someone to develop a program that uses the weather data from a specific geographic area (average temperature, highs, lows, average cloud cover, etc.) and the day length from that area and combines them to predict plant growth rates. I could plug in the “normal” maturity rate of carrots, and the day I want to harvest them, and it could tell me with some certainty when I should plant them.
2. The Rain Gauge App
I’ve heard that you can download lots of different weather apps onto your smart phone, and some will even display rivulets of water running down the screen to indicate that it’s raining (as if you couldn’t just look out a window!). What would be more helpful to the farmer is a rain gauge. Put your phone on a flat surface in the rain, screen side up, and the touch screen will calculate the number, intensity, and duration of raindrops to determine how much rain has actually fallen.
3. The Watermelon Tuner App
One of the ways to tell when watermelon is ripe is by the sound it makes. A dull, hollow “thunk” means it’s ready to pick, a higher pitched “think” means you should wait. But what about those of us who are tone deaf? That’s where the watermelon tuner app comes in. Just enter the variety of watermelon, then hold the phone next to the fruit and tap it. A tuning display, like a guitar tuner, will show you if it’s ready. What could be simpler?