The 90s left and took my bag phone with it.

I grew up on a third generation family farm in Kulm, North Dakota. My dad raised flax (lots of flax!), oats, barley, wheat and sunflowers. When my mom would bring lunch to the field, I would ride along with to visit Dad on the tractor. My mom recalls that as we were driving up and down the hills, the tractor would come in and out of our line of sight. I would cheer when I saw the tractor and cry when it “disappeared”.

As I grew older I was able to help with farm work. I would drive pickups, pick rocks, or cultivate sunflowers. My career as a sunflower cultivator was short lived as I tended to veer off the path. Oftentimes we were all working on different fields that were miles apart. If I encountered a problem I had to try to fix it myself, or use our two-way radio. My dad had a radio in town with a repeater on it. We could use that to communicate with each other as long as we were both within the range of the tower. It was pretty state of the art for the time. You could even use it to make local phone calls if you were in range!

Several years later we graduated to having a bag phone in the car. This was a step up from the repeater but had the same tower and range length. I remember figuring out that I could call 411 which would automatically connect me to a long distance number for free. This would last 15 minutes before the call was disconnected and I had to start over. Many hours were spent talking with my girlfriend that way when I was 14 and had time to kill in the truck.

Fast forward to 2016. With auto-steer in place, farmers can stream videos or music while driving along. Real-time access to market prices and news allow farmers to make business decisions immediately. It’s possible to check the cattle via web cameras, or check grain drying systems. During harvest, owners are calling truck drivers and grain cart operators. This creates a never-ending circle of calls between the many workers on the harvest team. With expanded operations it can be difficult to keep up with everything. Missing one key decision such as over-delivery on a contract or missing a grain marketing window can cost huge dollars for an operation.

Technology that never seemed possible is now something we can’t live without. Imagine life without auto-steer, yield monitors, or cell-phones! At the 2017 North Dakota Grain Dealers Convention, I will be speaking alongside The Arthur Companies. We will be sharing the story of how mobile technology has become a technology they (and their growers!) can’t live without. John Melland, Arthur Companies CFO, will share their vision for mobile and why they signed up for our mAgri Product. Why did they invest in mobile technology? What benefits has their business seen as a result? How will this benefit their business and customers in the future? We hope to see you there and are looking forward to answering your questions about mobile technology. 

Update: Here’s the presentation I gave with John Melland, CFO, The Arthur Companies at the 2017 North Dakota Grain Dealers Association conference in Fargo, ND on Monday, January 16.