ANALYSIS – Mainstream technology took a major leap forward today with the launch of the Apple Watch, but agriculture is already firmly on board with the wearable revolution.
While the tech fraternity evaluates the performance of the long-awaited wrist adorning computer, the agricultural sector could potentially welcome the item as a new implement at its disposal.
A plethora of wearable devices is already available in farming today. Boot mounted grass measurers are just one example of ways farmers can maximise efficiencies by wearing pioneering gear.
In the pipe-line, smart glasses – effectively having a computer on your head – will be used on some farms in the coming years, it has been suggested.
There is also a range of apps and smart phone devices to manage manure, soil, calvings and even acquire pig stockmen skills.
This is all part of a trend for rapid transfer of data around the farm, allowing growers to plan spraying campaigns from the farm office while wheat is monitored by drones in the sky.
But the farmers aren’t the only ones wearing technology. Pens of pigs and cattle have been recorded by microphone to reveal secrets about animal behaviour and welfare.
This is helping assist the industry in addressing aggression in pigs and complications like tail biting.
And in terms of health, rather than welfare, microphones can predict the onset of disease.
Recording calf coughs to create algorithms from acoustic analyses can alert stockmen for costly ailments such as Bovine Respiratory Disease.
Similarly, farmers could soon be able to attach an accelerometer on a cow’s tail to give a warning merely hours before the calf is born.
Furthermore, mysteries around forage availability and feed intake are being unravelled through bioacoustics in which scientists listen in on livestock chewing and biting.
However, few of these devices have come close to rivalling the Apple Watch in terms of grabbing headlines. Technology magazines have been positive, although shortfalls have been alluded to.
An evaluation by CNET said Apple's latest release offered, for a smartwatch, "a very promising assortment of software".
For some time now, media gurus have been shouting about how tech-savvy farmers are becoming.
Tweets are often sent from tractor cabs and combine harvesters, giving instant coverage of a harvest or cultivation campaign.
Over the years, social media has also become a popular way for farmers to discuss, debate and circulate news and reports.
In its evaluation of the Apple Watch, CNET praises its social media capabilities. Could this be an ideal fit for farmers?