Blog Post

3 Ways to Streamline Farm Operations Using a Data Collection App

Posted by Jennifer Herman

Farmer uses data collection app offline.

Efficient data collection is crucial for agricultural operations. But efficiency is tough when you’re relying on paper forms. In this article, we’re going to highlight three ways a data collection app can help you streamline farm operations, including:

  • Offline Data Collection
  • Daily Checklists
  • Fast, Accurate & Customized Reporting

1. Offline Data Collection

Why it matters

According to a 2020 FCC report, 22.3 percent of Americans in rural areas lack sufficient broadband coverage. And that’s just in the U.S. alone – rural broadband access is a global issue. Government entities and other organizations across the world are working hard to close this gap. However, building the needed infrastructure is a substantial undertaking. Broadband issues are certainly not going to be repaired overnight.

The agriculture industry is largely impacted by these broadband challenges. In a time when so many digital tools are available to help farmers improve and/or grow their operations, required internet connection can be a potential deal breaker. In the meantime, many Ag professionals will need to rely on technology solutions with offline functionality.

How a data collection app can help

Many of our agricultural customers come to us because they need a data collection tool that works offline, specifically because of spotty and/or zero broadband service where their operations are located.

Offline functionality is a ‘biggie’ for the Ag industry. So we wanted to spend some extra time here, and share a few examples of how our customers have put our offline-capable data collection app to work within their organizations:

  • The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) has been using our mobile data collection app to survey canola seed and soybean farmers and estimate crop yield loss during harvest season. Thanks to the offline functionality, their researchers are able to provide the farmers with real-time, crucial data while they’re together out in the field, such as issues that are causing detrimental crop yield loss.
  • Farmers National Company needed a solution to perform collateral inspections on farm properties in remote areas. And we’re talking extremely remote – inspectors working in the middle of nowhere on a south-facing mountain trying to count 3,000 head of sheep. With our data collection software, they were not only able to do the job in these locations, they were also able to reduce report processing time by 75 percent and nationally scale their collateral inspections business line.
  • One of our dairy farming customers needed a way for their truck drivers to accurately track and document pickups from the 1,000+ farms that supply their milk. As you can imagine, many of these operations are located in remote areas with no internet service. The customer created a digital form to gather the specific data they needed from these pickup routes, and made it available to their drivers through our mobile forms app. Now, the drivers are able to complete and submit the forms while they’re onsite at the pickup locations. The submitted forms are placed in a queue to be submitted to the server. If there’s no internet access when the form is submitted, it stays in the queue until a connection becomes available and it’s instantly submitted. Now they’re receiving faster, more accurate data.

2. Daily Checklists

Why it matters

There are countless moving parts on a farm, ranch or any Ag operation, for that matter. And there’s little room for error. Each moving part plays a critical role in helping you meet production deadlines and quality standards. Daily checklists can help you and your team stay on top of everything that needs to be done to keep operations running smoothly. The question is … how useful are they if you’re relying on data from a few checkmarks on an outdated paper form?

How a data collection app can help

A data collection app makes it easier to create, update and manage multiple checklists that you and your team can complete on your smartphones, out in the field. The options are literally endless. Our Ag customers are using digital forms for a wide variety of tasks, including:

You can use a mobile form builder to customize the checklist forms to your operation’s needs. You can configure which devices (or users) have access to the different forms, as well as select specific submission destinations for each checklist.

3. Fast, Accurate & Customized Reporting

Why it matters

Whether you need to conduct regular safety inspections or in-depth environmental quality testing, it’s important to have the ability to compile collected data into constructive reports. Why? Good reporting yields actionable insights. Actionable insights yield effective improvement and/or growth strategies for your operation. The ripple effect is quite positive here.

Additionally, reporting requirements vary widely across the Ag industry, depending on the type of operation you’re running. Just look at the USDA Agricultural Marketing Services regulations alone – the proposed list is endless, with all sorts of record keeping requirements. Errors in these reports can quickly result in substantial penalties.

How a data collection app can help

Fast. Government entities may request reports at a moment’s notice. Or maybe you need to quickly access an equipment inspection report to identify and correct an issue causing production delays. All this becomes very difficult if you’re relying on paper forms to collect data. With a data collection app, your team can submit the data you need, when you need it. All they need is access to a smartphone, laptop or basically any digital device. And voila – you gain access to instant reports.

Accurate. You can literally cut your reporting errors in half by onboarding a data collection app. Our customers report that switching from paper to mobile forms helped reduce their data entry errors by 50 percent.

Customized. Whether you need to add your company’s branding or organize data in a particular format, you can generate custom reports with a data collection app. Having the ability to format submission data with custom templates and generate PDF, Microsoft Word or Excel reports has been a huge benefit for many of our users.

Not Just Any Data Collection App

As you can see, digitizing your data collection process can bring big benefits to your operation. However, not all data collection apps are ‘created equal.’ It’s important to find the right solution for your operation’s needs. Device Magic can help you with all the items listed above. You can test out all our features and capabilities by enrolling in our free, 14-day trial.

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