Who would have ever thought a smart phone could be the most valuable tool to help manage the family farm? It's a simple formula really—smart phones, blinding fast technology, new farm apps, and better farm management at your fingertips. Has the future of farming arrived?

While is takes a lot more than a smart phone to actually make a farm profitable, it's no secret that lightning fast information technology can help you manage the farm better and even help market products and maximize profits. This in turn can lead to a more secure financial farming future.

"This is nothing new. The technology revolution hit the farm some time back and more and more farmers are using their iPhones and iPads to access information. But it's growing even faster now with new, agriculture-specific apps coming out all the time. These apps can help producers better manage their operations and maximize their profits" said Texas AgriLife Extension Agent Jeff Stapper in Corpus Christi.

Stapper should know. He watched the technology develop and catch hold among producers across his region.

"There was a time not long ago that I would be out in the field with a farmer and watch him go to his smart phone and dial up information he needed for the job and wonder what he was doing. It took me a while, but I learned that he knew how to find the information he needed right there in the field, on his phone, and before long I was using one myself. Now, I can't imagine life without it," Stapper said.

Stapper is hosting a special workshop that will focus on agriculture applications for iPhones and iPads on Tuesday, October 23, at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center in Corpus Christi. One of the workshop leaders is Professor and AgriLife economist Jackie Smith who says the workshop is the perfect place for non-users to learn to use smart phones and notebooks to help them on the farm.

"These workshops are really useful for agriculture producers because it helps them to learn a better, faster way to get the information they need when and where they need it," Smith says. The first hour of the program is directed to beginners who have never used or in some cases never seen an iPhone or iPad before. We will walk them through how to turn it on, how to get around the menus and so forth. Then we will get very specific about the latest apps available that are designed to make farming easier and more efficient."

Smith was part of a Texas A&M team that developed the Cost of Production app, a program that improves knowledge of costs and break-even rates on the farm.

"We will also be covering a host of other apps available for farmers right now. It is exciting because it is growing so fast. Almost every day a new app is available for farmers. While this workshop primarily focuses on row crop farming, this is our second year of app development and we are moving into livestock management. Already dozens of apps are available for livestock producers, so regardless whether you are growing crops or raising cows, learning how to use the hardware and being introduced to the software is a great thing to do," Smith adds.

The Coastal event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at 10345 State Hwy. 44, just west of the Corpus Christi Airport. Space is limited and preregistration is required by October 19, 2012, by calling 361-767-5223. The registration fee is $25 per person and includes lunch. Participants will be eligible for an iPad, which will be given away at the conclusion of the workshop.

For farmers north of the Coastal Bend, the workshop will be repeated in Columbus the following day, Oct. 24, hosted by Texas AgriLife's Kara Matheney. The Columbus event will be held in Room 108 of the Northside Education Center in El Campo, which is located at 707 Fahrenthold, beginning at 8:30 a.m.