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

EquipmentDTN Launches Ag Retailer Focused Data Management Program
April 5, 2016
As farm data multiplies exponentially, ag retailers need help leveraging the power of big data to better serve their customers Read More
Junge Control Panels
SoftwarePlant Automation Takes Traceability To The Next Level
March 8, 2016
What began as a way to simply vary differing fertility products at different rates to create custom fertilizer blends — Read More
Tiger Sul Crop Nutrient Calculator
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launches New Nutrient Calculator App
November 12, 2015
H.J. Baker, a global agriculture firm, has launched a new agronomic nutrient calculator app. This innovative and powerful tool will Read More
Precision AgXS Inc. Expanding Ag Retail Reach With AgVeritas
November 5, 2015
AgVeritas, the patented cloud-based yield analysis application launched by XS Inc for the 2015 season, is making a significant impact 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
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
CropLife 100Farmers Union Oil Co. Votes To Join CHS
September 30, 2016
Eligible voting members of Farmers Union Oil Co., a diversified agricultural retailer based out of Oslo, MN, have cast affirmative Read More
EmployeesOABA Program Develops Future Generation Of Agribusiness…
September 29, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association will select up to 25 promising leaders to participate in a leadership enhancement program early next Read More
ManagementThoughts on CropLife America and the PSM Appeal
September 29, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the recent CropLife America annual meeting and the successful appeal of the Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsMarrone Bio Innovations’ SVP And Chief Sustainability O…
September 29, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc., a leading provider of effective and environmentally responsible pest management and plant health products, announced today Read More
Young Corn Field
StewardshipStudy: Ohio Farmers Doing ‘A Good Job Of Managing…
September 27, 2016
Leaders from Ohio’s largest grain farming organizations announced today that Ohio farmers are doing their part in effectively managing phosphorus Read More
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