GAPAC
Georgia Association of 
Professional Agricultural 
Consultants


This is the GAPAC FieldRecon™ Software Page

For the Ag Renaissance FieldRecon page, go to http://www.fieldrecon.com

Version 6 is ready for use in 2006


FieldRecon™, How to make it work for you and your clients

Why you need it.  Have you ever wondered how there might be a better way to keep up with the huge amount of paper files we generate over the course of a season?  From insect counts, planting dates, crop stage and maturity, spray dates, weed history, fertility records, and others, it can get pretty hard get our hands all the data we need to give good consulting advice.  Sort through paper, files, or notebooks, or  relying on a grower to tell us, or to remember ourselves,  retrieving this needed information is difficult and can be slow.

Under the guidance of the GAPAC, both through a lot of emails, faxes, phone conversations, and a couple of sessions at our Annual Meetings, David Krueger, of AgRenaissance Software LLC has developed such a program.  The GAPAC voted to pursue the development and funding of the project at our business meeting on February 21, 2002.  FieldRecon™ is being designed from the ground up to benefit the consultant and the grower.  Data entry, with a little training and practice, should be competitive with the amount of time that hand written records require.  If a candy vendor in his step-van delivery truck generates computer invoices for his customers, we professional consultants can do the same for our farmer clients.

How you can use it.  For example, if a grower has sixty fields, FieldRecon™ can print him a report of the data from all his fields from the most recent scout trip; next, if he needs to spray, FieldRecon™ can produce a second report that includes just the ten fields where with recommended insecticide applications.  Other examples:  With the click of the touchpad (mouse) see what week of bloom any given field is in, produce a season history of any given field, or to see how many times you have sprayed a given field, variety, weed history, and more.   The time required for data entry should not be greater than that need for writing, provided, of course, that you have at least a working level of keyboard and computer skills; otherwise, be careful before you invest too much.

Pocket Recon... This really speeds up scout data communication.  Data entry time requirements are competitive with paper, but the flow is so much faster.  Sync with your laptop, and you have all their data ready for a review and a report.  You know what time a field was done, who did it, whey they f

FieldRecon Updates Link From the password protected area of the Field Recon web site there is the latest program update.  

There is also an Optional Sample Database from Carl Hobbs data on two growers whose names have been changed to protect their identity. 

Contact AgRenaissance Software LLC 

at 877-518-8030 to obtain a user id and password.


Hardware Requirements

Computer Requirements:

  • 1.8 GHZ PIV (1.5 GMHZ PIII okay, but the more the better) or equivalent.  FieldRecon™ will run on less.  Most people think they have to have the PIV-M, or Mobile Pentium processor.  This is good, as it drains the batter slower, and is more compact, making the size of the notebook and its cooling fans smaller.  To me, this is no big deal, as the regular PIV is a cheaper processor, the jotto desk keeps the notebook secure since I don't move it around much, and the power inverter eliminates the need for me to worry about battery life.

  • Avoid any unit with Windows ME. Windows 2000 or Windows XP better.

  • 10-20 Gig Hard Drive, 40 better.

  • 256 MB RAM ! 128 probably good enough 512 better.

  • 16 Meg Video Card, 32 better.

  • SXGA Display; HPA is okay, but not as easy to read in sunlight.

  • CD RW recommended over DVD to make backups easier. DVD would, however, give you the advantage of being able to let your children watch a movie while riding.  DVD?  Well, many laptops have combination, or multi function CD drives, capable of reading CD's, recording/rewriting CD's, and playing DVD's.  While this is really pretty neat and cool, if they're like mine, they may do all that, but they don't do any of it as fast, especially reading CD's.

  • Consider a GREY laptop instead of black, as it will run cooler.

  • Get an extended warranty! They usually run about $200 to extend the warranty from one year to three.

  • Add Microsoft Office Software, at least the Small Business Edition; the Professional Edition contains Power Point and Access, and runs about $200 more.

  • Add an Ethernet card instead of RW CD ROM, then add (if you don't have) an ethernet card to your desktop at home.  When you get home at night, bring in the laptop, plug into the ethernet network cable, and copy your files to the desktop.

Go to Dell's Website and configure a notebook system to meet what you need.

 

Bottom feed inkjet printer 

Top feed would be okay, but paper would get blown and absorb more moisture. Do what you have to do to mount the printer level on the console or seat, while still making it secure.  I use a small shelf board and a bungee cord.  Get a box or something to take paper with you. Use good quality inkjet paper. Store it flat in the truck! Take only a 2 - 3 day supply, to keep it fresh and crisp. This will cut down on paper jams. Consider the number of pages per minute a printer can print and price of ink refills; usually the cheaper the printer, the higher priced the cartridges are and the slower the output. If you have to wait two minutes for five pages of reports to print instead of one minute, it can make a big difference in time in getting around to all your growers. I am not afraid to print while the truck is moving. Keep spare cartridges with you; canned air for emergency cleaning is another good idea.  You will probably, in all honesty, have more printer problems than computer problems.

NOTE: The printer must be level to print and feed paper.  I had to shim mine up with a small block of wood. Also, crank the engine, THEN start the print job, as the cranking can cause a power drain from the inverter to the printer and make the computer and printer lose communcation.

A Jotto Desk

From http://www.jottodesk.com/, 1-877-455-6886. They make units that are fixed pedestal mounts that mount directly to floorboard or bolt to your seat brackets. The basic unit I use the model 5167, about $156. The mast is removable from the floor mount and adjustable for either driver and passenger to use comfortably.

Power Supply

You need a power inverter to convert 12V DC to 110 AC.   The more wattage the better, but 400 Watts should power the printer fine.  Better yet, get a 2-plug unit, one for laptop and one for printer.  Sometimes when I start a print job, then crank the truck, I lose power, so crank the truck, then start your print job, or leave it off until done. A 2-plug unit (400 watt) should cost  about $60; look for them in the car stereo area or in the Camping and RV Accessories area of the major discount stores.  Be sure cooling fan has ventilation and that unit sits flat.  I RECOMMEND DIRECT WIRING TO THE ALTERNATOR.

 Flash Memory

I have made extensive use of Compact Flash Cards for easy data backup and fast transfer of large files, much more efficient than CD-R's.  You need:

A Compact Flash (CF) card, 128 MB or better.

A PC to CF adapter, that allows you to use the PCMCIA slot on your notebook for writing to the CF card.

A USB Card reader for your desktop, either a "multi card" or CF reader.  This way, you can rapidly move data files from machine to machine.

 

Other hints to keep the laptop running cool:

Always park with the windshield away from the sun.

Leave windows down for inproved ventillation.

Leave the hinged display up.

Consider a GREY laptop instead of black.

If the computer gets too hot, crank up, turn on the air conditioning, and cool it down before trying to use.

 


 

GAPAC HOME PAGE

 

Website designed by Carl Hobbs.