Twenty-five years ago CB radios were all the rage. Then came cell phones. Now smart phones are taking the consumer world by storm.

That’s becoming true, as well, in agriculture where IT experts are dreaming up new uses for the handheld devices almost daily.

Who would have thought that farmers, who tend to be independent by nature, would allow themselves to become so connected that almost anyone can reach out and touch them or send data to their phones at the push of a button?

One of the key ingredients in the smart phone explosion is one some would consider a privacy issue — the Global Positioning System or GPS tracking feature.

While GPS makes it possible for others to know where you are in real time, it is also giving producers new tools for managing their farming operations.

Trimble, for example, has introduced a “Connected Farm” app for smart phones that allows farmers or their consultants to map field boundaries, take geo-referenced photos and enter scouting information for weeds or insect pests — all on their phone.

The free app, which can be used with Trimble’s Farm Works Office software, is “usable by farmers, consultants, agronomists or anyone providing production information on the farm,” says Ian Harley, business area manager for Trimble.

The information collected on the smart phone app can be downloaded wirelessly on to the Farm Works Office software and tied in to fertilizer, herbicide or insecticide application systems.

The Connected Farm app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. To use the Connected Farm App data within the Farm Works Office software, current Farm Works users will need the latest software version.

Farmers are also using smart phones to simplify their lives by performing tasks such as starting or stopping center pivot irrigation systems.

Tim Schmeeckle, a corn and soybean farmer from Gothenberg, Neb., can stop or start any of the 11 center pivots he operates on his 2,000-plus acre farm in the Platte River Valley with his smart phone.

“Before I might have to go out in the rain at 2 a.m. to turn off a center pivot or check to make sure it was operating,” says Schmeeckle.

“Now I can turn a pivot on or off with my smart phone. I even started one while we were 300 miles away on vacation this summer, and it was still running when I got home.”