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

InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. 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
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. 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

Latest News

Seed CareSeed Care Success Stories: Hefty Seed And Monsanto BioA…
November 1, 2014
Growers in the Dakotas have always looked for extra ways to boost crop nutrients to their seeds, with plenty of help from their ag retail partners. Read More
Seed CareThe Growing Importance Of Seed Care
November 1, 2014
Ag retailers continue to value the seed treatment portions of their businesses — as do their grower-customers. Read More
Seed CareGrowing The Future Of Seed Treatment Equipment
November 1, 2014
Seed treatment equipment manufacturers are focusing on flexibility and customer stewardship. Read More
Soybean Field
Seed CareState Of Seed Care Study: Top 8 Key Findings (Infograph…
November 1, 2014
Results from our survey of ag retailers provide valuable insight into the state of the seed care industry. Read More
StewardshipTFI Recognizes Michigan, Maryland Farms For 4R Stewards…
October 31, 2014
As farming practices increasingly attract interest from the general public, two farmers are ensuring they meet public approval. Read More
Eric SfiligojBig Brother Is Already Watching
October 31, 2014
Opponents to UAVs seem to think they could be used to spy on other people. But spying is already taking place, through the Internet. Read More
StewardshipAsmark Institute’s New Training Center Focused On…
October 31, 2014
The newly dedicated Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture will be used as a national training and education center for professionals in the ag input industry. Read More
StewardshipCTIC Tour Dives Deep Into Everglades
October 31, 2014
The most recent Conservation In Action Tour (CTIC) hit South Florida recently to tour the Everglades Agricultural Area. Read More
StewardshipResponsibleAg Begins Auditor Training
October 31, 2014
ResponsibleAg auditor training is now underway at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, KY. Read More
CropLife 100ValueAct Buys Stake In Fertilizer Dealer Agrium
October 30, 2014
ValueAct has bought 8.2 million shares in Calgary, Alberta-based Agrium, making them the second largest investor in the fertilizer dealer. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
StewardshipUSDA To Provide $4 Million For Honey Bee Habitat
October 29, 2014
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that more than $4 million in technical and financial assistance will be provided to Read More
Crop InputsValent Launches New Low VOC ProGibb LV Plus Plant Growt…
October 29, 2014
ProGibb LV Plus PGR is a high-potency, liquid gibberellic acid formulation designed to comply with California’s new air quality standards for high volatile organic compound agricultural products. Read More
Crop InputsBayer CropScience Acquires Certain DuPont Crop Protecti…
October 29, 2014
Bayer CropScience and DuPont Crop Protection have signed an agreement for Bayer to purchase certain DuPont Crop Protection Land Management assets in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Read More
ManagementWest Central Names New President
October 29, 2014
West Central’s board of directors have announced their unanimous decision to name Milan Kucerak President and CEO-elect following Jeff Stroburg’s retirement at the end of the fiscal year. Read More
InsecticidesValent U.S.A., MGK Form Marketing Agreement
October 24, 2014
Valent has formed an agreement with Minneapolis-based MGK to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products within the U.S. beginning April 1, 2015. Read More
StewardshipFlorida’s 4R Advocate Keeps Improving
October 24, 2014
Florida farmer Alan Jones uses the 4R principles of nutrient stewardship as the core of his fertility program, which allows him to maximize production and keep costs in check. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Named One Of The World’s Best Multinational …
October 23, 2014
Monsanto ranked No. 8 in the world’s largest annual study of workplace excellence that identifies the top 25 best multinational companies in terms of workplace culture. Read More