The agricultural industry is one that is often perceived from the outside as very traditional and slow to adopt the latest technologies. However, many companies are leading the way by partnering with growers to implement new systems that enhance yields, increase efficiency and better comply with regulations for food production and labor. Geo Ag Solutions of Lake Placid, Fla., is proudly forging the way for citrus growers and other producers in the region with custom applications deployed on Samsung tablets protected by OtterBox Defender Series cases.
Geo Ag was founded more than a decade ago with proprietary software aimed at increasing efficiency for agricultural producers, specifically in Florida’s booming citrus industry. Its customized solutions were designed to gather and report in-field data, and more recently, to track employee hours and work history. Today, around 350 crews in Florida are using Geo Ag’s Harvest Pay platform to collect labor information in the field and comply with state and federal regulations.
Geo Ag Solutions
In its early years, the company struggled with how to deploy its software, having created its own equipment with limited success. It moved to on-the-market ruggedized portable computers that worked well for the ag industry, but the $6,500 per device price tag was a barrier for many potential Geo Ag customers.
“Today we are able to offer our same program on a consumer grade device that is often subsidized by the mobile service care providers and carriers,” said Geo Ag manager David Summers. “The device that we like to recommend right now is the Samsung GALAXY Tab series. The large display is usually perfect for out in the field, and the Samsung GALAXY line are mainstream devices that are readily available. The OtterBox cases are available for them as well, which is important for our application, because we wouldn’t be able to offer that without some type of protection on there. We won’t send them out in the field without an OtterBox on them.”
Like many of Geo Ag’s customers, Florida-based Overlook Harvesting Company uses the federal H-2A visa program to bring in workers from Mexico to harvest citrus. Harvest Pay streamlines the intensive data collection and tracking data required to comply with the program. During harvesting season, the company will run more than 20 crews with about 650 pickers total.
“Our crew leaders are using the tablets for time-keeping in the fields,” said Noradilia Lora, the employment compliance director for Overlook. “They keep track of worker hours as well as tubs each picker picks throughout the day. We use it to make sure that our workers are being paid correctly for the amount of time they spend in the field or the tubs that they are picking.”
Prior to deploying Harvest Pay on a tablet device, Overlook was keeping records using paper that had to be manually entered into the system. The software has increased accuracy and cut down on the time it takes to track and record the necessary information.
By coupling carrier-subsidized tablets with OtterBox Defender Series cases, Geo Ag can offer its technology platform without requiring a large upfront investment from the producers. The Defender Series provides protection and peace of mind to business owners, managers and crew leaders alike. OtterBox is a member of the Samsung Mobile Accessory Partnership Program. The “Designed for Samsung Mobile” logo on the package signifies that OtterBox cases have been certified to meet Samsung performance standards. According to Summers, not one of the 300 tablets Geo Ag customers are using in the field with OtterBox Defender Series cases has suffered physical damage.
“A lot of our first time customers are nervous (about mobile technology). Even just getting them to touch the tablet sometimes is a challenge,” said Cole Garvey, field support agent for Geo Ag. “When it comes to the tablets they are very comfortable using something in an OtterBox. It’s easy to handle, it’s not a little thin device and it’s rugged. The OtterBox definitely helps us market these as a rugged, tough solution out in the field.”Agricultural producers have myriad things to worry about – crop yields, weather, growing seasons, regulations and international markets just to name a few. Those who are on the cutting edge of technology are using mobile devices to improve their operations, and OtterBox is alongside them to provide peace of mind that their investments are protected and they will always be connected.
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