Saving Through Scouting

Farm Works TitanRH

Dr. Arthur Lange, Trimble Navigation Agri­culture division; Scott Shearer, University of Kentucky; and WITH the recent ethanol boom, many growers are switching their fields to corn-on-corn. Purdue University Extension Corn Specialist R.L. (Bob) Nielson has seen additional weed and insect pressure from not rotating crops, requiring extra dilligence and renewing the importance of field scouting. Says Nielson, “Every field needs to be judged on its own merits (or demerits). It is particularly irresponsible to be handing out blanket recommendations on planting based on observations — or hearsay — from other fields, perhaps with totally different scenarios.” Each field, says Nielson, must be monitored throughout the season for pests, disease, and effects of environmental factors.

A key element of modern agriculture, scouting technology can save a grower time and money. Knowing the assets and needs of each field is priceless; unfortunately, scouting tools aren’t. CropLife® magazine asked several manufacturers and dealers for their opinions on the best tools for the money.

Handheld/Pocket PCs

Most companies agree: Electronic recording of field observations is a time-saver, allowing field histories to be accessed and evaluated in minutes. As AgRenaissance Software President David W. Krueger explains: “The advantage of keeping scouting records is that it provides a means to see how, for example, pest populations have changed over time as a result of pest management practices.

The problem with using a paper-based recordkeeping system is that it could take hours to go through the scouting records, field by field, to determine if a pest problem is being controlled and which pest management practice is best.

“Instead, a software recordkeeping system like AgRenaissance‘s FieldRecon allows the data to be quickly retrieved for reports and field history, he says. FieldRecon is a field management tool that records crop information, scouting observations, spray applications, harvest data, and other details in a user-friendly journal format. The pocket PC version, PocketRecon, collects information out in the field; the data is then uploaded into the FieldRecon database back at the office.

Brian Stark, marketing manager for Farm Works Software, sees two major issues with electronic recording hardware: the ruggedness of the mobile device and ease of data transfer. Farm Works’ multi-level Site Mate software, available since 1999 and currently priced at $250 per level, is used for mapping fields, soil sampling, scouting, and  variable-rate application, and can be used with any GPS receiver.

However, says Stark, “The standard out of the box pocket PC is not designed for field elements. Rain, dirt, and dust are very hard on cheap devices.” Although Farm Works recommends a Site Mate package with iPAQ Pocket PC to users concerned with low cost, the company directs those who rely on these devices daily to the TitanRT or TitanRH, both of which are designed to work in rough environments and can handle sun, rain, snow, sleet, and ice. Farm Works takes the additional step of modifying the hardware, including the mounting system and pre-installation of software so the built-in GPS receiver automatically locks onto Site Mate. “Everything is ready to go right out of the box,” Stark says, “and one never has to worry about losing data again.”

Mark Waits of SST, Inc. agrees that rugged handheld computers are vital to keeping data safe and secure, citing the “fragility, low-battery life, and hard-to-see screens of widely available, off-the-shelf handheld computers.” The shockproof and waterproof SST Field PC combats these problems with a 20-hour battery charge, and meeting IP67 and Mil-Std-810F standards for drop, vibration, immersion, humidity, and operating temperatures.

Data Transfer

Data transfer — and possible loss — is a major issue, and “most (ag users) have little time to devote to downloading and organizing” collected data, Stark says. Farm Works’ new software, Farm Sync (released November 2007), allows a user to “download data from a mobile device into their desktop computer through a wireless network.” Stark explains that there is no longer the need for a sync cable for transferring data to the office computer. Busy users often don’t download the data gathered on a mobile device to their office computers, resulting in damaged or lost records. Farm Sync prevents this, making data transfer easy by utilizing the same wireless hub  already used for wireless Internet.

The SST Field PC with Communications Module also saves time and worry during uploading, as it provides sealed CF and SD card slots, which can accommodate a GPS receiver, extra data storage, wi-fi, or cellular modem cards; alternately, wireless communication is available through Bluetooth, wi-fi, or cellular. 

Additional Issues

Cynthia Turski of Spectrum Techno­logies, Inc. sees two different issues: The difficulty of easily identifying pests and diseases, and the reliance on subjective visual readings. To handle the first problem, she recommends Spectrum’s IPM Scope, a digital microscope which enables fine detail magnification, still-image capture, measurements, and the ability to draw or add labels directly on the image.

The subjectivity of visual readings is a bit harder to deal with, but Spectrum has that covered with several innovative chlorophyll meters, which provide objective readings. To avoid human error with corn or cotton readings, Spectrum recommends the SPAD 502, a compact, lightweight, and highly accurate chlorophyll meter that monitors plants’ nutritional conditions.

With more growers facing new issues cropping up from planting corn-on-corn, field scouting has gone from being an excellent way to manage field crops to a necessity.  

Leave a Reply

Software Stories

Farmer and aptop
EquipmentCultura Technologies Launches Solentra Software Business
May 31, 2017
Cultura Technologies, an industry leader in agribusiness technology solutions, has just launched their newest company, Solentra. Cultura provides agribusiness software solutions Read More
Growmark FS Outlet
SoftwareKnoa Software Solution Helps GROWMARK Boost System Performance
April 19, 2017
Knoa Software, a leading provider of user experience management (UEM) software, has announced that GROWMARK, Inc., a regional agricultural cooperative Read More
Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App
EquipmentNew Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App Alleviates Spraying Concerns
March 10, 2017
There’s a new app to help farmers decide when to spray their fields. Pocket Spray Smart is a free iOS Read More
Junge Innovation Center
EquipmentAg Retail Plants Adapt Designs, Software
March 2, 2017
A host of factors could be cited for “the rise of the machines” in ag retail plants — and the Read More
Trending Articles
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Redbanded-stinkbug-on-soybean-Photo-credit-Thomas-County-Ag
Crop InputsExperts: Mild Winter, Early Planting Will Increase Soybean Insect Threat
June 12, 2017
Higher than average temperatures this past winter affected much of the nation, especially the South and Midwest. The National Centers Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto ‘Picks Its Battles’ by Nixing Deere Deal
May 23, 2017
Having been in the trade journalism game since the mid-1980s, I remember several watershed moments during my career. One of Read More
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Agriculture
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Case sprayer nozzle closeup
EquipmentSpray Application: A Nozzle Renaissance
May 2, 2017
If you had asked four-decade ag veteran Mark Bartel, President of Wilger Inc., just a few years ago what lay Read More
Latest News
Young Corn Plants
Eric SfiligojLaunching New Seed Traits: Wait on China . . . Or Else!
June 26, 2017
In life, no one likes the waiting game. In agriculture, however, playing the waiting game is very important – especially Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMonsanto Speaks on Dicamba Issues in Arkansas
June 26, 2017
Monsanto’s Chief Technology Officer, Robb Fraley, issued the following statement following the Arkansas State Plant Board’s proposal to ban dicamba, Read More
Corn Field
Seed/BiotechCorn Insect Bt Technologies Offer Cost-effective, Proac…
June 26, 2017
When farm economics are challenging, farmers look for ways to bolster profit margins, including reducing input costs. Some may think Read More
Crop InputsArkansas Plant Board Votes to Ban Dicamba — Now W…
June 23, 2017
The Arkansas State Plant Board has voted to pass a proposed emergency rule to ban the use of in-crop dicamba, Read More
Engenia soybeans
Crop InputsBASF: ‘Closely Monitoring’ Dicamba Situatio…
June 22, 2017
BASF, whose Engenia herbicide is the target of more than 200 drift complaints in Arkansas, emailed the following statement to Read More
ManagementConsolidation Update
June 22, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss progress on manufacturer consolidation, and another big move for Midwest cooperative Central Valley Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
Crop InputsThreat of Dicamba Ban Looms in Arkansas
June 22, 2017
The Arkansas State Plant Board has rejected a proposed ban on the use of dicamba herbicide, but a procedural error Read More
Potash Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium-PotashCorp to become Nutrien upon Merger Complet…
June 21, 2017
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. have announced today that once the anticipated merger transaction closes, the new Read More
Crop InputsMidwestern BioAg Hosts TerraNu Fertilizer Plant Opening…
June 20, 2017
Last Friday, Midwestern BioAg was joined by over 80 local farmers, media and staff to celebrate the grand opening of Read More
Soybean Field
Industry NewsAligned Ag Distributors Names New President
June 19, 2017
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC announced this morning the appointment of Mary Tolke to the position of President/CEO, effective July 1. Read More
ManagementPlotting Corn, AGCO/Asmark’s Applicator Training Center…
June 15, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about their recent visits to Columbus, OH, and Bloomington, IL, along with an Read More
Seed/BiotechDow AgroSciences Announces Launch of Enlist Corn for 20…
June 14, 2017
Enlist corn will be commercially available in the U.S. for the 2018 growing season. Dow AgroSciences announced the launch today Read More
ASMARK AGCO Applicator Training Center
EmployeesAsmark, AGCO Open Training Center for Beginning Applica…
June 13, 2017
AGCO Corp. and the Asmark Institute have opened a new Applicator Training Center, created in a collaboration between the two Read More
Power to Do More Contest Winners
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Announces Three Winners in Power to Do…
June 13, 2017
Thousands of votes have been cast and three farmers have been awarded the power to do more with a $10,000 Read More
Frogeye leaf spot
FungicidesStrobilurin-resistant Frogeye Leaf Spot Threat Looms wi…
June 13, 2017
Heavy spring rainfall throughout the South and Midwest delayed planting and created the perfect environment for diseases like frogeye leaf Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
LegislationICGA Praises President Trump’s Remarks on Waterwa…
June 12, 2017
Illinois Corn Growers Association President Justin Durdan, a farmer from Utica, issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s comments Read More
Wheat Growers
UncategorizedWheat Growers Names Tracy Linbo as Senior Vice Presiden…
June 12, 2017
Wheat Growers has hired Tracy Linbo as Senior Vice President of Agronomy. Linbo joins Wheat Growers after having served 10 Read More