Technology and communication are a necessity in the world of agriculture. As farm operators or workers, you understand the importance of a reliable and robust communications technology.
Mobile phones are often limited by poor network signals or by a time-consuming dial-up process, so you turn to two-way radios for your communication needs. What are the best two-way agriculture radios to help you manage operations more efficiently? Read on to find out.
Top Pick – Midland MicroMobile Farm Tractor Bundle
If there is one radio that is both compact yet powerful, it’s Midland’s MXT-115. This 15-watt two-way radio is an upgraded version of Midland’s 5-Watt GMRS and has a wider range. In open, unobstructed areas, communication is possible within 50 miles. This wider range is also because of the 15 high/low power GMRS channels and 8 repeater channels, and the magnetic mount mobile antenna the device is equipped with. For private transmission, there are 142 privacy codes provided.
Another feature that we find cool and useful in the MXT-115 the weather and scan alert. This device scans the weather and sends notifications in case of severe conditions. This helps ensure safe and smooth farm operations. This radio kit is ideal for tractors, harvesters, or trucks as it can easily be mounted.
In terms of transmission quality, well, it’s Midland, so you can never go wrong. Plus, the MXT-115 comes with an antenna cable, an invisible antenna, and high-grade microphones. As a tractor radio, this is highly recommended not only because of easy installation but also because of its base station and the fact that it’s a GMRS unit, it has better range and power – very ideal for long-range transmission needs especially in areas with a lot of competition and obstruction.
- extended 50-mile range
- can be easily mounted
- has weather scan and alert feature
- FCC license required
Easy installation and good quality are two of the most mentioned features of the MXT-115. Some users also say that the unit is reliable and has impressive performance, especially when used during harvest season. It is a very handy kit for agricultural needs.
Runner-Up – Kenwood TK 3402 ProTalk
Our runner-up for this list is Kenwood’s TK-3402 ProTalk5. Despite being a handheld device, it is definitely not lacking in features that make it suitable for use in agriculture. In fact, it is one of the most durable units on the market as it is water and dust resistant and can work in temperatures as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
In terms of range, the TK-3402 allows communication across a 7-mile range, which may be more than what most farm operators need. It is equipped with 16 channels and 90 pre-set frequencies, operating between 451 and 470 MHz. However, this also requires an FCC license to operate. Nonetheless, since Kenwood’s reputation for manufacturing quality products is untainted, we can vouch for the TK-3402 as a reliable UHF two-way radio for farms.
- water and dust resistant
- has battery saving and low battery alert features
- communication range is shorter than other radios
- cannot be mounted
- FCC license required
Most users are satisfied with the TK-3402‘s performance. There are comments on how good the quality is, which is something expected as it is from Kenwood. What users like most about this device is that is it easy on the hand – it is lightweight and handy. No user seemed to have any problem with communication range. In fact, a lot believe that sound quality and clarity are good.
Best Value – Midland 5 Watt GMRS MicroMobile
A 40-mile communication range and a weather scan and alert feature for a low price are some of the things that make Midland 5 Watt MicroMobile our Best Value pick. Apart from these, like other Midland radio kits, this unit is equipped with 15 high/low power GMRS channels and 142 privacy codes that prevent unwanted transmissions.
The weather scan feature allows the MicroMobile to send alerts in case of any inclement weather updates. This two-way radio is not only fit for use during the day but also for night operations because of its easy-to-read LCD display. A cool added feature is the keypad control which means that the keypad can be locked to avoid accidentally activating the keys or pressing any of the menu options.
- 40-mile range
- keypad control feature
- equipped with weather scan + alert feature
- slightly shorter range than Midland’s MXT115
- FCC license required
This compact piece of equipment has an impressive performance for a very affordable price. Users rave about how good the quality is and how they are able to use it even in extended distances. Users say that they can communicate well and clear with this device and, all in all, think that’s it’s a device worth trying.
“Great little radio. Set up is easy and functions are pretty simple. Great sound out of the small unit. Awesome value for what you get. Would highly recommend.” – Amazon reviewer
Best License-Free: Dakota Alert M538-HT
Not everyone working in the agriculture sector requires a radio kit with a base station or an FCC license. Hence, we included this handheld license-free device. The Dakota Alert M538-HT Multi Use Radio Service (MURS) is a transceiver and, therefore, makes two-way communication possible. The transmission capability is long-range. This allows users to have more mobility while using this device.
Privacy is also not a problem as this is equipped with 38 privacy sub-channels and has an earphone jack. This means that users may choose to use an earphone for private communication. Although it can only operate within the 151.820 MHz ~154.600 MHz frequency range, users can still communicate even with a 2-mile distance between them. So, if you’re looking for a two-way agriculture radio but don’t think that an FCC license and a wider range is required, the Dakota Alert M538 is a great and practical option.
- does not need an FCC license to operate
- wireless and handheld
- has privacy sub-channels
- shorter range than those with a base station
- fewer frequency options
Most reviews are on how handy the M538 is. Not only is it ideal for use in buildings, but also in agriculture. A lot of users are impressed with the product’s range and quality; given that it is a wireless device. There are users who are happy with the quality and clarity of communication – no background noises and no unwanted transmission. Others also comment about how hassle-free it is to use and that being battery-operated is an advantage because batteries are easy to find.
Most Durable – Motorola CP200D
A product that we believe is best for rugged everyday use is Motorola CP200D. We know how the working environment in farms are, so, although this comes with a hefty price tag, we believe Motorola CP200D is well worth the extra bucks. It is a UHF device that has good range and exceptional battery life.
Really ideal for farm applications, this product is dust proof and splash proof because it has IP54 protection. When it comes to durability, you can tell by the make of its hard case that it will take more than a hard fall to break it. It withstood rigorous testing and is one of the few two-way radios that are compliant with US military standards. It will survive challenging weather conditions and everyday use. So for those looking for a durable communication device for field work, Motorola CP200D is a smart choice.
- long lasting battery life
- dust and splash proof
- US-military standard compliant
- not mountable
- FCC license required
Although this product seems a little too expensive for a handheld radio, some users believe that it’s worth the price because it’s a quality radio with a durability that’s tried and tested.
How We Picked the Best Products for This Article
Range is probably one of the most important factors to consider when buying a two-way agriculture radio. Some operate a smaller farm, while others work a vast agricultural area. Before choosing the best type of radio, it is important that you know your farm lot area, the type of terrain it has, and whether there are obstructions or not, in order to determine the range that will work best for you. Some radios have a communication range of at least 2 miles, which is enough for communicating across a few acres of land. However, if you have a bigger farm lot, then you might want to go for ones that will allow you to transmit messages across longer distances.
Farm work requires robust hardware. Radios are also used on different types of vehicles. There are tractor radios, radios for small trucks, radios installed on harvesters and radios carried by farm workers. Some radios may get wet or accidentally dropped; some will have to endure bumpy rides. It is therefore important to consider radios built for this type of routine. Farm radios must be rugged and durable. In terms of build quality, there are trusted brands that have a good line of products that are most reliable and ideal for use in farms.
Just because these radios will be used in farm doesn’t mean they cannot have cool features. Actually, some of our recommendations have really good added functionality that farm operators may find useful. For instance, weather scanning. Receiving alerts on weather updates is one feature that could save farmers time and money. One would not want to work on a farm during severe weather conditions. There are also privacy features that allow private communication. Of course, who would want to talk on a radio while consistently hearing interference. For our picks, we considered these factors and chose ones that we think will work when used on a farm.
We know that not all farm operators are willing to invest in an FCC license. If radios are only to be used occasionally, then it’s really not practical to purchase radios that can only operate on licensed frequencies. Some of the products we recommended require an FCC license while there are also some that are license-free. It’s only a matter of knowing the scope of farm work you are involved in to know whether you need a license or not, unless you are set on purchasing a GMRS radio. It is worth noting that FCC has reclassified FRS and GMRS radio services and now requires those operating GMRS units to have a license.
Battery and Wattage
Wattage and power source are important factors to consider as well. The higher the wattage, the wider the coverage range of a device. For farm radios, at least 2-5 Watts is ideal. In order to cover a 2-mile range at the very least. We also included lithium ion powered radios because, although rechargeable battery packs allow longer usage, lithium ion batteries are fairly easy to find. They also last approximately 18 hours on the field. What’s important for us is we want users to not find themselves stuck on the field with no way to communicate because their radio battery died.
Ease of Use
Farm work itself may already be laborious. We don’t want users to have the added burden of having a radio that will take hours or complicated steps to install. We either recommended easily mountable equipment or handy wireless devices. Again, choosing which one is most suitable for you depends on the type of farm you operate.
We realize farming involves a number of different activities. There are a lot going on behind the scenes and for operations to run smoothly, certain technological devices must be available. So, in this case, two-way radios play a big role in working in agriculture sites. We hope our recommendations have guided you on how to choose wisely before purchasing.
In this post, we presented the best two-way radios for farm use. To summarize, here is a list of our recommended two-way radios for farm use: