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

Corn Field
FertilizerBridging Crop Nutrition Science And Technology
September 7, 2016
The future seemed to draw nearer for the 1,600-plus attendees of the co-located InfoAg and International Precision Agriculture conferences in St. Read More
Deere R4023 cab
Precision AgPrecision Ag Aids Fertilizer Programs
September 6, 2016
Whatever the farm economy may look like, retailers need to continue to develop a sound fertility program to reach the Read More
EquipmentCase IH Debuts Nutri-Tiller 955 Strip-Till Applicator
August 24, 2016
With strip-till continuing to expand across new acres, Case IH designed the new Nutri-Tiller 955 strip-till applicator to help producers Read More
EquipmentCase Launches Aim Command FLEX, 25th Anniversary Patriot Sprayer
August 24, 2016
Case IH announces new AIM Command FLEX advanced spray technology for greater application accuracy, as well as special 25th Anniversary Read More
Trending Articles
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsBayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger: 6 Things You Need To Know
September 14, 2016
Mega mergers have become almost routine in the agricultural industry. Right on the heels of Monday’s news that fertilizer giants Potash Read More
Potash Corp Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium, Potash Corp To Merge To Create $36 Billion Company
September 12, 2016
Canada’s Agrium Inc. and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc. have agreed to combine in a deal that would create a Read More
Osage Co-op Elevator Osage, IA Finished Building
OpinionAre We Crazy?
September 8, 2016
At some point in the first few months of my employment here at CropLife® magazine, I started getting curious about Read More
ManagementMAGIE 2016 Highlights and Deere Anti-Trust
September 1, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj discusses the recent Midwest AG Industries Exposition and the Department of Justice’s objection to John Deere Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
Latest News
Growmark FS Outlet
Industry NewsGROWMARK To Purchase Suncor’s Share Of UPI
September 26, 2016
GROWMARK and Suncor have reached an agreement in which GROWMARK will purchase Suncor’s 50% interest in UPI, Inc. in Ontario, Read More
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Syngenta Seedcare Institute
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Opens New North America Seedcare Institute In …
September 23, 2016
Syngenta unveiled its new Seedcare Institute in Stanton, MN, during a recent grand opening celebration. More than 150 industry leaders, Read More
StewardshipMonsanto Invests $1.6 Million In System To Quantify Gre…
September 23, 2016
The USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its Soil Health Read More
Pipe rack
LegislationCourt Sides With Ag Retailers On PSM
September 23, 2016
The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when Read More
ManagementPacific Coast Fertilizer Announces Interest In Longview…
September 22, 2016
Pacific Coast Fertilizer LP (PCF) announced at the Cowlitz Economic Development Council board of directors meeting its interest in developing Read More
Young corn plants in soil
UncategorizedCool Planet Raises Additional $9 Million To Commerciali…
September 22, 2016
Cool Planet has announced the first close of a new financing round to commercialize the company’s Cool Terra Engineered Biocarbon Read More
Crop InputsJim Loar Promoted To President And CEO Of Cool Planet
September 22, 2016
In a move that reflects and reinforces the company’s commitment to the agricultural market, the Cool Planet board of directors Read More
BlendersNorth Dakota Coop Debuts Dry Fertilizer Plant
September 22, 2016
North Central Grain Cooperative has begun operations at a new dry fertilizer plant at its Rolla, ND, site. It is Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, Bayer Officials Defend Proposed $66 Billion M…
September 21, 2016
Top officials for Monsanto and Bayer defended their proposed $66 billion merger before skeptical senators on Tuesday, insisting that the Read More
ManagementUpcoming Shows & Recent Events
September 19, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about upcoming trade shows and events and review the Mid America CropLife Association Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Appoints New CEO
September 19, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences, a plant health and nutrition company, today announced that its board of directors has named Kenneth M. Avery Read More
Corn
Crop InputsEPA Settles With Syngenta For Alleged Multi-Regional Pe…
September 19, 2016
The U.S. EPA has announced a multi-region settlement with Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC (Syngenta) in Greensboro, NC, for alleged violations of Read More
ManagementMerger Mania
September 16, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss this week’s mega-ag mergers of Bayer and Monsanto and Potash and Agrium. Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMonsanto Ends Up Being A Bargain For Bayer
September 16, 2016
History will say Bayer got a bargain in its $66 billion purchase of Monsanto, writes David Nicklaus, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
CropLife 100California Ag Retailer Steps Up To Feed Families Affect…
September 16, 2016
GAR Tootelian, Inc. (GAR) in Reedley, CA, is challenging the Central Valley to help raise enough money and provide 525,000 meals Read More
Crop InputsBayer, Monsanto CEOs Discuss Merger
September 15, 2016
Werner Baumann, Bayer CEO, and Hugh Grant, Monsanto CEO, discuss why they decided to merge their companies. Read More
Corn close up
Crop InputsNY Times: Bayer-Monsanto a Bad Deal for Farmers
September 15, 2016
Via NY Times: Don Halcomb, a 63-year-old farmer in Adairville, KY, is expecting his profit to vanish this year, largely Read More