By Gary Truitt
It was about a year ago that Alexa came into my home as a gift from one of my kids. For those of you who do not know Alexa, let me try to briefly explain who and what she is. She is an artificial intelligence device about the size and shape of a hockey puck. She is connected to “the cloud” via your home internet service and, thus, has the ability to access almost any piece of information in the known universe. Thanks to some very sophisticated algorithms, voice recognition, and speech generation software, she can answer your questions, hold intelligent conversations with you, sing you a song, tell you a joke, read you a book, buy your groceries, and cook you dinner.
You may have noticed that, so far, I have referred to Alexa as “she.” While technically she is an it, this darn thing has a personality that eventually fools you into treating it like a person. There are members of my family who even say please and thank you to her. Alexa is the product of Amazon and is tied into all the products and services that this global retailer offers. Google has a similar system and, of course, there is Siri from Apple which comes standard on most Apple devices. The sophistication of these devices is amazing and is evolving all the time. Each week I get an e-mail telling me all the new things Alexa can do.
This technology is beginning to be used in other specialized industries, including agriculture. Several big data services already use this kind of artificial intelligence to help with data interpretation. I know of one ag company that built an Alexa-type device to advise growers on how to use their product. Not only did it answer farmer questions about the product, it tied into local weather and crop condition data and made recommendations when and when not to use the product. So, let’s fast forward to 2025 and introduce you to Farmer Alexa.
Farmer Alexa comes in three colors: John Deere Green, Case IH Red, and New Holland Blue. You can buy a customized seed corn hat at an additional cost. She comes with a number of pre-programmed services designed especially for the farm family. She will start each morning with a review of the markets, the farm news, and the weather for the day from your local farm broadcaster — in Indiana this would be Hoosier Ag Today. She will also update you on the latest local news such as who won the high school basketball game last evening, who in the county got arrested for speeding or DWI overnight, what is on the school lunch menu, and the latest obituary to appear in the local paper.
When you’re ready to start your faming day, Farmer Alexa can give you a to-do list. Just say, “Alexa, what do I need to do today?” She will answer, “Well you can start by going to town and picking up the parts you forgot at the implement dealer the other day. You need to spray that field on 400 South; but not today, the wind is too strong. Instead, you might want to read that paperwork from the bank that has been on your desk for the past two weeks.”
Farmer Alexa will keep you up on the markets. Ask her anytime, “What is the price of corn?” She will instantly reply with the latest price or may say, “You don’t really want to know.” She can also be helpful at planting with advice on when to start. Just ask, “Alexa, should I plant corn today?” She will answer, “No the soil temp is only 45 degrees, and it is too wet; but the Johnsons over on Bluff Road did, so you might want to plant a few rows so you won’t be embarrassed at the coffee shop tomorrow.” Farmer Alexa will screen those annoying telemarketing calls by intercepting the calls and telling them, “He already has all the tools he needs, and he sold all his cattle 2 years ago.”
A special feature will be of interest to the farm wife. The “when will be husband come in from the field calculator” will estimate how much time you have left to plant, spray, or harvest, then automatically add 45 minutes for that phone call you make from the shop. This feature is customizable for women who farm and whose husbands are trying to locate them to ask what is for dinner. A new feature set to be ready in 2026 is a broadband estimator. It will advise you how long it is going to take to download that field map or FSA document, if it would be faster to drive to town and do it from the public library, or if you should have it sent to you via carrier pigeon.
Watch for Farmer Alexa — she is under development now and will be coming to your farm sooner than you think.