Trying to build an agriculture app?
There’s a growing market for such apps. If you have the opportunity to innovate in the crucial farming business software industry then it can be extremely profitable.
Build an Agriculture App
Take the following steps to create an agriculture app:
1. Initiate the project to build an agriculture app
You need to initiate the project. For this, you need a small team led by a project manager (PM). The team should have a software architect and a few business analysts (BAs). This team should do the following:
- The PM should create a comprehensive project plan.
- BAs should gather, analyze, and document the functional requirements. These are about the functionality offered by the app.
- The architect should study the industry benchmarks for non-functional requirements (NFRs) like scalability, performance, maintainability, usability, security, etc. This will help the architect to document the NFRs.
- The architect should create the technical solution for the project.
- The PM should implement reviews of requirements and technical solutions.
2. Review a few well-known agriculture and farming apps
The global agriculture market is large. A report from “The Business Research Company” estimates this market to grow from $9602.79 billion in 2020 to $13133.95 billion in 2025. The report projects a CAGR of 7% during the 2021-2025 period.
A rapidly growing population is putting pressure on the agricultural sector. This drives the policy-makers to focus increasingly on smart agriculture. They are using smart agriculture in various areas, e.g.:
- Precision agriculture;
- Livestock monitoring;
- Precision aquaculture;
- Precision forestry;
- Smart greenhouse.
Smart farming assists farmers by using new technologies like AI (artificial intelligence) and IoT (Internet of Things).
Naturally, the global digital agriculture market is growing. Digital agriculture involves technologies like UAV, GPS tracking, etc., in addition to AI and IoT. For example, it uses modern technologies to track weather conditions like temperature and moisture.
A PR Newswire report estimates the digital agriculture market to grow from $5,131.9 million in 2020 to $10,587.6 million by 2027.
Many enterprises and start-ups offer great agriculture applications. Check out the following useful apps to get design ideas:
AGRIVI is a comprehensive digital agriculture platform. It offers the following advantages:
- It provides real-time insights to food growers.
- AGRIVI offers farm management capabilities.
- This platform connects farmers, agriculture supply chain stakeholders, retailers, and food companies.
- AGRIVI offers supply chain traceability.
- Farmers can manage field operations with the help of this platform.
- AGRIVI provides an agriculture data exchange.
Sirrus is a well-known agriculture app. It offers the following advantages:
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- It enables data-driven decision-making for farmers.
- Farmers can view recommendations regarding fertilizers and nutrients.
- Sirrus offers field-mapping capabilities.
- Farmers can use its GPS tracking capabilities.
- Farmers can get rainfall estimates for their fields.
FarmerOn enables consumers to buy produce directly from the farm. It’s available on Android and iOS.
MachineryGuide is a collection of software applications. It’s available on Android. It offers the following advantages:
- Farmers can track cultivated areas and overlaps.
- MachineryGuide helps farmers with GPS tracking.
- This app provides precision guidance.
- It offers an automatic steering system to steer tractors accurately.
- Farmers can manage sprayers better using MachineryGuide.
E. The Drift App
The Drift App helps farmers to spray pesticides effectively. This app provides a spray planner, and farmers can customize it for their farms.
The Drift App offers a feature named the “Sprayability Index”. This feature helps to reduce the potential of herbicide drift, which reduces the impact on the bordering crop.
3. Decide the features to be offered in your proposed agriculture app
You need to decide the features of the agriculture app based on your desired key functionalities. E.g., an app to manage irrigation systems will have different features from an app for nutrient-related decision-making.
The features could slightly vary within the mobile app vs. the web app, e.g., the web app might enable the end-users to set up the details regarding farm management and agricultural production. On the other hand, the mobile app will offer GPS tracking, field mapping, etc.
Most agriculture apps will have the following features:
- Location and GPS tracking;
- Seamless integration with drones;
- Chats and video calls;
- Workflows to manage the agriculture supply chain;
- Machine vision;
- Push notifications;
- Weather forecast;
- Listing agricultural goods like fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides;
- Managing the maintenance schedule of machinery like tractors;
- Information about diseases and their treatments;
- Payment gateway integration;
4. Write the requirements for the agriculture application development project
Your BAs have gathered the business requirements, and now they need to document them. Our guide to writing project specifications can help. The architect needs to document the NFRs.
The PM needs to implement a requirements review process. Get formal approval from the business stakeholders for the requirements, and implement a change management process.
5. Plan the features of the proposed agriculture web and mobile app MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
We recommend you launch an MVP (minimum viable product) for your proposed agriculture app. An MVP is a functional product with fewer features.
You can get market feedback by launching an MVP, which helps you to decide your next course of action. Subsequently, you can enhance the app. I recommend you use the Agile software development methodology in this project.
Identify the high-impact features. Plan to include them in the MVP, as our MVP guide explains.
6. Create an effective agriculture app development approach
Formulate an effective software development approach. I recommend the following:
6a. Create native agriculture mobile apps instead of cross-platform apps
Native Android and iOS apps make the best use of the hardware features of their respective mobile devices. You develop them using technologies suitable for the corresponding operating system.
Native mobile applications deliver superior user experience, performance, and security than cross-platform apps. These aspects are important for all mobile apps.
However, aspects like user experience and performance are even more important for an agriculture app. Farmers might not have the best Internet connection in their fields. Native apps will help them more.
6b. Use a cloud computing platform
Start-ups might not invest in a large data center. If you belong to this category, then using a cloud computing platform will help. You can focus on software development instead of software infrastructure management.
6c. Use a judicious mix of your own APIs and 3rd-party APIs
I recommend you develop your own APIs for the core features. This helps you to utilize your business capabilities. You can also scale your software development process.
For non-core features, you can use leading 3rd-party APIs. Examples are payment gateway integration, push notifications, sharing on social media, etc.
Using too many 3rd-party APIs can add external dependencies. However, you don’t want to reinvent the wheel for non-core features. Strike a balance.
6d. Use a mobile device lab on the cloud to increase the test coverage
There are different models and versions of iPhones and iPads. When it comes to Android, there are also different manufacturers. You need to ensure that your Agriculture app works on all of these devices.
You need to test the app on different devices. A mobile device lab on the cloud can help you to achieve this. I recommend you use one.
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7. Choose a cloud platform to develop an agriculture business app
Review various leading MCSPs (Managed cloud services providers) like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. Choose a suitable MCSP for your project.
You need to find the right kind of cloud platform too. Consider the following options:
- IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service): If you want the MCSP to manage the cloud infrastructure only, then use an IaaS platform. Remember that you need to manage everything other than the IT infrastructure. AWS EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) is an IaaS platform.
- PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service): A PaaS platform manages the cloud infrastructure, operating system, middleware, and runtime environment. It provides services like databases, DevOps tools, API integration, etc. AWS Elastic Beanstalk is an example. You focus on coding and data.
- MBaaS (Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service): An MBaaS platform manages the cloud infrastructure and persistent storage. They make it easier for you to develop and manage the mobile back-end, therefore, you can focus on the front end. AWS Amplify is an MBaaS platform.
8. Choose the technology stack for agriculture app development
I recommend you use the following technology stack:
8a. Front-end web development
8b. Back-end web development
You can create performant and scalable web apps using this open-source runtime environment. Developers can use excellent open-source Node.js development tools and frameworks to gain productivity.
8c. Mobile app development: Android
Use Java to develop the native Android app. This enterprise-grade language hardly needs an introduction. Java helps to create performant and secure apps, and it’s been the mainstay of Android development for a long time.
8d. Mobile application development: iOS
Develop the native iOS app using Swift. It’s a modern language with powerful features. You can build secure and performant apps using Swift, and developers gain productivity. Apple prefers programmers to create apps for its platforms using Swift.
8e. Analytics capabilities for the proposed agriculture app
You can integrate a leading analytics solution like TIBSO Spotfire. Check out “Spotfire Mods” offered by TIBCO. Alternatively, you can develop the entire analytics capabilities from scratch. You need Python developers for that.
8f. Machine vision, machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities for the proposed agro-business app
You can use one of the leading AI development tools to implement machine vision, ML, and AI capabilities. Azure AI Platform is an example. Vertex AI is the AI platform from Google, whereas, IBM Watson is the AI platform from IBM.
You might choose to develop all AI/ML algorithms in-house. Hire Python developers in that case.
8g. IoT capabilities for the proposed agriculture industry app
You can use one of the leading IoT development platforms in your project. Google Cloud IoT, Cisco IoT Cloud Connect, Microsoft Azure IoT Hub, and Salesforce IoT cloud are a few examples.
Do you plan to develop all IoT modules on your own? You need IoT developers with Java or Python skills.
You can use MySQL or PostgreSQL if you need a relational database. Cloud computing majors offer both of these open-source SQL databases on their cloud platforms. Many developers know MySQL and PostgreSQL due to their popularity.
8i. API development for the proposed agribusiness app
I recommend you develop RESTful APIs since REST (Representational State Transfer) is an established standard for API development. Use tools like Postman to create APIs, and use Swagger to document them.
8j. Increasing test coverage for the proposed agriculture mobile solution
I talked about using a mobile device lab on the cloud to increase test coverage. Sign-up with pCloudy. The company provides a wide range of devices on the cloud for testing, moreover, pCloudy is user-friendly.
9. Create a project plan for the agriculture app development project
You need the PM to prepare a comprehensive project plan. It should cover the following:
- Plans for the MVP and subsequent iterations;
- Tasks, dependencies, schedule, and budget;
- Quality standards, metrics, and measurement;
- Risk management, communications management, human resource management, stakeholder management, etc.
10. Hire competent developers to build an agriculture app
You now need to hire remote developers and designers for the rest of the roles. These roles are as follows:
- UI (user interface) designers;
- Web developers;
- Android developers;
- iOS developers;
- AI/ML developers;
- IoT developers;
- DevOps engineers.
How do you hire the best developers? Should you hire from freelance platforms or software development companies?
Several freelance platforms exist, and you might be able to find developers at a low hourly rate there. We don’t recommend this option though.
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It’s hard work to develop an agriculture app that can compete with the best apps on the market. Executing such a project with part-time freelancers (most freelancers are working on more than one project at once) is harder.
Freelance platforms don’t offer management support, and you need to find replacements in the case of turnover.
I recommend you hire programmers from a trustworthy software development company. Such companies provide full-time developers under the same conditions that you hire freelance developers. Their developers have the skills, experience, and motivation to deliver complex projects.
Reputed software development companies offer replacements if software engineers leave the project mid-way. These companies provide management support too and guarantee the quality of the code written by their developers.
11. Organize your team for effectiveness
You need to organize your team so that it can deliver sustained value to your end-users. Such a team needs a culture that fosters collaboration and empowerment. We recommend you use the Scrum framework to organize the team.
A scrum development team is a small, cross-functional team. UI designers, developers, testers, and DevOps engineers work together in such a team. The PM performs the role of a “Scrum Master”.
A “Product Owner” provides the requirements. The team estimates them, and slots them in iterations. We call these iterations “Sprints”. Scrum teams conduct “Sprint planning meetings” to plan them.
Such a team conducts a “daily stand-up meeting” to resolve the project issues. It demonstrates the functional product to end-users in a meeting called the “Sprint review meeting”.
Scrum teams conduct a lessons-learned exercise after a sprint. We call it the “Sprint retrospective meeting”.
12. Design the user interface (UI) of the proposed app
You can offer the best UI to end-users if you follow the right UI design guidelines. Consult the following resources:
- UI design rules of thumb for the web app;
- The “Material Design” guidelines for the Android app;
- The “Human Interface Guidelines” for the iOS app.
13. Develop your own APIs
Take the following steps to build RESTful APIs:
- Host the APIs on the cloud computing platform you chose.
- Use appropriate databases for back-end development.
- Design API endpoints.
- Create rules for API requests and responses.
- Use secure gateways, authentication, encryption, etc., to secure the APIs.
14. Design and implement an information security solution for your agricultural app
Information security is important in agriculture apps. Design and implement an effective information security solution. It should cover the following:
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA);
- Proactive mitigation of crucial application security vulnerabilities;
- Encryption of data at rest and in transit;
- Planning and running security and compliance tests proactively.
15. Web app development
Do the following to develop the web app:
- Use a popular IDE (Integrated Development Environment) like Atom, Eclipse, or IntelliJ IDEA to code the app.
- The next step is to integrate the APIs and SDKs.
- Ensure a systematic code review.
- Test the app.
- Deploy it using the DevOps tools provided by the cloud platform.
16. Develop the native Android mobile app
You need to take the following steps for native Android development:
- Code the app using the popular IDE named “Android Studio”.
- Integrate APIs and SDKs.
- Ensure a thorough code review.
- Use Espresso and the pCloudy mobile device lab on the cloud to test the app.
- Publish your app on Google Play.
17. Build the native iOS mobile application
Take the following steps to develop the iOS app:
- Use Xcode, the popular IDE to code the app.
- You need to integrate the APIs and SDKs into your code.
- After a structured code review, test the app using XCTest and the pCloudy mobile device lab.
- To submit the app to the Apple App Store, follow the Apple “App Store Review Guidelines”.
Congratulations! You have just developed an agriculture app.
I just described what it takes to build an app for the agricultural industry. It’s not just about delivering functionality to the farming community, your proposed agriculture app needs to add sustained value to agricultural production and farm management. Building such a high-quality app can be complex. You need the best people.
If you don’t have the required skills or experience then why not take a moment to let DevTeam.Space know your requirements and one of our dedicated account managers will get back to you to answer any questions you might have and show you why our software app developers and dev teams are the best.
Several excellent agricultural apps exist, and they cater to different use cases like management of used farm equipment, farm dog scouting, farm data sharing, crop production protection, etc. Check out AGRIVI, Sirrus, FarmersOn, Farm Dog, the Drift App, and MachineryGuide. These different agricultural apps make the life of food growers easier with the smart use of new technologies.
You can, provided you have adequately skilled, experienced, and motivated software developers. Finding such app developers can be hard. However, a trustworthy mobile app development company like DevTeam.Space can provide such software engineers. Contact us for more information.
DevTeam.Space has extensive capabilities not only in mobile technology but in niche technologies like IoT, analytics, machine vision, AI/ML, etc. We can provide skilled and experienced software engineers to meet your requirements.