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
SoftwareBlending Software To Address Every Need Of Ag Retail
March 3, 2014
This year’s packages cover more facets of dealer businesses than ever. Read More
SoftwareNew Crop Scouting App Now Available For Ag Retailers
September 3, 2013
AgraScout is a data management and communications tool used by retailers, consultants, and others to track and report conditions in a particular farm location. Read More
SoftwareWinfield Launches New Mapping Capabilities For R7 Tool
August 29, 2013
Winfield has announced the addition of a Field Response Map and a Profitability Map for its R7 Tool at 2013 Farm Progress Show. Read More
SoftwareTrimble Launches Connected Farm Dashboard
August 29, 2013
The company claims its new dashboard enables better decision making by putting key data at growers’ fingertips. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer Warehouse
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Aligned Ag Distributors
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
CropLife 100Bozeman Named SEEDWAY Chief Operating Officer
January 16, 2015
He succeeds Donald Wertman, who will retire at the end of August 2015 after 40 years with the GROWMARK subsidiary. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis’ Craig Bair Honored For Safety Contributions To Ag Aviation
January 14, 2015
The William O. Marsh Safety Award recognizes significant achievements in safety, safety education or an outstanding operational safety program. Read More
Latest News
Seed/BiotechDow Details Enlist Trait Stacking Standards
January 30, 2015
Dow says it will allow the Enlist trait to be stacked with advanced glyphosate traits only, and will not allow stacking with the first generation of the Roundup Ready trait. Read More
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: IFCA’s Jean Payne on Illinois wat…
January 30, 2015
Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares insight from the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association conference including a chat with IFCA President Jean Read More
ManagementOABA Conference Set To Highlight Trends, Technology And…
January 29, 2015
The third annual Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) Industry Conference is set to take place February 4-5. Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute President Jahn Testifies Befor…
January 28, 2015
The committee hearing, "Freight Rail Transportation: Enhancing Safety, Efficiency, and Commerce," looked at challenges facing our nation's freight rail network created by higher demand, rules and regulations and infrastructure needs. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue University Acquires Technology For Herbicide Mol…
January 28, 2015
Protea's LAESI DP-1000 Instrument System will be used in Purdue's College of Agriculture, the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, for the molecular imaging of herbicide active ingredients and other related compounds to optimize herbicide applications and improve weed management.  Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Hires New Crop Peformance Marketing Manager
January 27, 2015
As Marketing Manager for the Crop Performance division, Usman Khalid will work out of H.J. Baker’s global headquarters in Westport, CT, and will drive new initiatives for the division. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
Exclusive state-of-the art Stueve Construction designed “Vista View” Elevated Control Room.
Eric Sfiligoj2015 Agricultural Market Read: Mixed
January 26, 2015
The agricultural market could look radically different this year, profit-wise, depending upon which segment you do business in. Read More
Edward Chell Biosafe
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Names Ed Chell California Territory Man…
January 26, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the recent addition of Ed Chell as California Territory Manager for the agrichemical division, supporting the crop protection, water treatment and food safety business segments. Read More
InsecticidesBayer CropScience Introduces Sivanto Insecticide
January 26, 2015
Sivanto precisely targets key damaging pests at multiple insect life stages to prevent damage to plants and help minimize the spread of diseases from insect carriers. Read More
ManagementRetail Collaboration, Communicating Agriculture’s Good …
January 23, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the recent creation of Aligned Ag Distributors, and the US Farmers and Ranchers Read More
FertilizerOSU Expert: Toledo Water Crisis A Turning Point For Ohi…
January 23, 2015
The August 2014 water crisis in Toledo, OH, impacted Ohioans’ views of Lake Erie algae problems by increasing the attribution of blame of algae growth on agriculture. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launching TIGER XP
January 22, 2015
Tiger-Sul introduces this next generation sulphur-bentonite product with a proprietary activator – ensuring farmers have a well-balanced nutrient replacement program. Read More
Crop InputsH.J. Baker Expands China Sales Force
January 21, 2015
Global Agricultural firm H.J. Baker announced that sales veteran Shi Dongshen has joined their Shanghai office in China. This newest hire follows the recent opening of their Lianyungang Sulphur Bentonite Plant. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer …
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
SoftwareDeere Launches App Center
January 20, 2015
The John Deere App Center provides users the ability to search and find apps most useful to their business or operations. Read More
Crop InputsNew Syngenta Herbicide Approved In Soybeans, Sunflowers
January 20, 2015
Syngenta will sell BroadAxe XC herbicide in 2015 for use on soybeans, sunflowers and dry peas Read More