The modern scarecrow works on an iPad

TOKYO - Farmers in Asia can now flip out their iPads to see how their crops are faring. They can know exactly how many more days a crop needs until harvest. Like some people checking to see how many "likes" they get on Facebook, farmers can take the pulse of their fields.

That is the gist of a new agricultural product released Oct. 14 by Japanese mobile carrier Softbank Group and electronics maker Hitachi. Their $6,270 system, the e-kakashi, consists of a base unit and several terminals. The terminals gather information -- such as temperature, humidity, surface moisture, insolation, carbon dioxide - from all over a farm. They then send it to the base terminal, which transmits the data to cloud servers.

The companies plan to sell the system in Japan and, in the future, across Asia, where countries share similar rice-growing cultures.

"We believe a made-in-Japan agri-product will be well-received," said Norio Yamaguchi, project leader at PS Solutions, a Softbank subsidiary.

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