Cool Tools For The Scout

With new seed technologies available and established pesticide chemistries facing resistance problems, the need is bigger than ever to scout fields and evaluate product performance, says Jeremy Bale, marketing director with SST Software Development Group.

Fortunately, it’s becoming easier for growers to determine the cost (lost yield) of weed, insect and other problems, says Brian Stark, marketing manager at Farm Works Software. Crop scouts play a key role here. “Scouts are being pushed to cover more and more acres each year,” he says.

Power Of Pictures

The “Image” feature in the new Farm Works Mobile (which replaces Trac Mate and Site Mate) allows the scout to use a GPS-enabled handheld d

evice with a built-in camera to take a picture of a weed or insect. The image is linked to a map for future reference. Plus, the photo can be tied in with notes or other information. “This makes it easier for anyone to collect information in the field and have the necessary details in the office for assessment,” explains Stark.

In fact, Farm Works Mobile streamlines data management in the field by bundling recordkeeping, mapping, scouting, soil sampling and variable-rate application into one software solution, he says.

Spectrum Technologies‘s 5-megapixel IPM Scope CAM allows users to capture magnified images of diseases or insects and review the images on the LCD display, says Cynthia Turski, IPM specialist. Once downloaded to a computer, the image can be magnified up to 300X.

SST Software with agX already allows service providers/growers to collect and track seed technologies, pesticides, and pests consistently and efficiently, says Bale. Its framework supports multiple layers of data and allows users to monitor that data over time to determine effectiveness of specific programs (by farm, field or management zone). The company is in the process of integrating digital imagery that will enable monitoring of fields on a larger scale, saving time and increasing exactness of information gathered. “And we are working to deliver new tools in 2011 that will bring an exciting array of opportunities for crop scouting and protection efforts,” he says.

Another popular field aid at Spec­trum has been the newly designed SPAD 502 Plus chlorophyll meter. “It measures the transmittance of a leaf at two different wavelengths and outputs a SPAD index number,” says Turski. “Based on the value of that index number, the user can determine if nitrogen needs to be applied.” One of the company’s customers has been using the previous SPAD meter for 10 years to determine if sidedress nitrogen is necessary and even to establish what rate of sidedress nitrogen to apply. The meter has enabled the grower to reduce the total number of pre-sidedress soil nitrate samples taken and later in the season, the number of plant tissue samples collected in the field.

Able to watch fields when managers can’t, Spectrum’s Watchdog Micro stations can now support up to six sensors to measure conditions such as temperature, relative humidity, soil moisture, rain, and leaf wetness. Knowing soil moisture, for instance, can help growers time irrigation and save money or improve crop quality, says Turski. “If insects are a problem, a combined effort of keeping track of temperatures, degree days and trapping can be very effective in aiding management decisions, she says.

Tough Field Displays

Just last month Ag Leader introduced a new mobile display that’s compatible with its SMS Mobile software tool for collecting crop scouting data, soil sampling, field boundaries, and more. The Mesa Rugged Notepad is a waterproof, impact-resistant notepad built specifically for field use.

“This device offers users more than just a PDA — the Mesa is a digital notepad made specifically for field work,” says Corey Weddle, director of software solutions. The Mesa provides flexibility for running SMS Mobile, while the large, 5.7-inch, sunlight-readable screen offers easy operation but doesn’t compromise its portability. In addition, the Windows Mobile 6.5.3 operating system provides a streamlined, more responsive interface that is very finger-friendly, Weddle adds. Additional features include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology, as well as a built-in camera and GPS, making it ideal for the in-field operations of SMS Mobile.

Trimble/Farm Works now offer three mobile computers — Trimble Juno, Trimble Nomad, and Trimble Yuma — with built-in GPS and cameras. “This is a significant improvement compared to the old days of using HP iPAQs with Bluetooth GPS or compact flash (CF) GPS cards inserted into the CF slot,” believes Stark.

With such an array of helpful tools, scouting experts offered a few guidelines for purchase decisions. Stay with one company when shopping for hardware and software recommends Stark. He’s seen growers and scouts become frustrated with other, third-party hardware/software. “Customer frustration can range from no support staff, lack of software enhancements or lost data due to computer failure,” he says.

SST’s Bale would advise dealers to look for a system that can scale with their operation and allow them to share data with colleagues, managers and growers, while offering the ability to create reports at a refined and high level.

Leave a Reply

Precision Ag Stories

Precision AgGoogle Glass: New Tool For Ag
October 8, 2014
New wearable smart technologies such as Google Glass show potential to greatly impact how we accomplish the business of feeding the world. Read More
Precision AgPrecision Agriculture: Finding The Payback
September 6, 2014
Profitability in precision ag is not about any one technology, but the result of employing technology in a total system approach that is agronomically sound. Read More
Precision AgUAS: The S Stands For Smart, Service And Sensors
May 1, 2014
The only thing occuring more rapidly than the technologies’ evolution is the clamoring to implement UAS into agriculture as soon as possible. Read More
Precision AgAg Retail: 3 Tech Trends To Watch In 2014
April 1, 2014
It's been a busy first quarter of technology developments in 2014. Here are some of the highlights, and things to watch in the months ahead. Read More

Trending Articles

Matt Hopkins15 Best New Agriculture Apps Worth Downloading In 2014
December 16, 2013
These latest agriculture apps are sure to help ag professionals do their jobs more efficiently in 2014 and beyond. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More

Latest News

Seed/BiotechEPA Approves Dow’s Enlist Duo Herbicide
October 15, 2014
The Enlist Weed Control System, breakthrough technology to fight resistant and tough weeds, has received the long-awaited green light from federal regulatory authorities. Read More
MicronutrientsGypsum On Farms Could Help Keep Water Clean, Not Green
October 14, 2014
Gypsum, which has roots in the past as a farm soil treatment, also may have a bright future, and not just as a booster of crops but also as a protector of water. Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Crop InputsVerdesian Grows Sales Staff
October 14, 2014
The new account managers will drive sales growth and support relationships with key customers in the plant nutrition and seed treatment and inoculants product categories. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
October 14, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Purchases Six Grain Elevators, Four Agron…
October 14, 2014
The Andersons has acquired Auburn Bean and Grain of Auburn, MI, which will increase the storage capacity of its Grain Group by about 13%. Read More
StewardshipThree Ohio Ag Retailers Honored With 4R Certification
October 13, 2014
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced its first three agriculture nutrient service providers to achieve certified status. Read More
Eric SfiligojEntering Agriculture’s New Phase
October 13, 2014
The market’s giddy ride the past few years might be coming to an end in 2015, warns one industry insider. Read More
Eric SfiligojWar And Green Peace
October 11, 2014
A one-time member of Green Peace recently explained why he left the organization after 15 years. Read More
StewardshipCover Crops Add To Farm Sustainability
October 10, 2014
Farmers nationwide find cover crops to be a tool that helps groundwater, prevents erosion, builds soil quality and complements existing best management practices. Read More
EquipmentMeeting Changing Liquid Storage Needs
October 10, 2014
Tank and containment choices are expanding with shifts in farming practices and the economy. Read More
StewardshipEDF Launches Initiative To Reduce Fertilizer Pollution …
October 9, 2014
The effort will engage farmers and businesses throughout the supply chain to transform the way fertilizer-dependent grain crops are grown and sourced. Read More
ManagementMACA 2014: The State Of The Agricultural Industry, And …
October 9, 2014
The trade association’s annual gathering featured speakers from across agriculture and beyond. Read More
FertilizerASA: Drainage Tiles A Big Part Of Phosphorus Problem
October 8, 2014
A pair of studies published in the Journal of Environmental Quality today indicate that the buried network of drainage pipes known as the tile system can carry away as much phosphorus as surface runoff. Read More
FertilizerCompass Minerals Debuts Phosphorus Blend For 2015
October 8, 2014
The makers of Wolf Trax DDP Nutrients designed Nu-Trax P+ with the CropStart Nutrient Package, a blend of phosphorus (25%), zinc (20%), manganese (5%) and nitrogen (4%). Read More
ManagementIndiana Certified Crop Advisor Of The Year Nominations …
October 8, 2014
Indiana Farm Bureau and the Indiana Certified Crop Adviser Program are seeking nominations for the Indiana Certified Crop Adviser of the Year Award. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communit…
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Precision AgGoogle Glass: New Tool For Ag
October 8, 2014
New wearable smart technologies such as Google Glass show potential to greatly impact how we accomplish the business of feeding the world. Read More
FertilizerJ. R. Simplot To Build New Ammonia Plant In Rock Spring…
October 7, 2014
The new plant will supply both the Rock Springs, WY, and Pocatello, ID, phosphate fertilizer production locations while having the capacity to meet the company’s next phase of anticipated phosphate expansion plans at Rock Springs. Read More