The use of modern technology allows farmers to produce more efficient and maximum crop yields, and now there is a new tool of the trade – a smartphone app that helps growers keep harmful pests at bay.
The new MyIPM Row Crop app helps farmers identify crop pests and diseases and provides pest management information such as labeled pesticides and application rates. It includes photos and descriptions of insects and diseases, as well as life cycle information and non-chemical control methods.
“The goal is to reach as many growers as possible to help them minimize costs and crop losses from insects, disease and weeds,” explained Sally Taylor, associate professor of crop entomology in ranks at Virginia Tech, which helped develop the app.
The app was created by Clemson University with support from the Southern Region Integrated Pest Management Center and other academic researchers from the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast states. Free from the Apple and Google app stores, the easy-to-use, interactive app allows farmers to select pest management information for corn, cotton, peanuts, sorghum and soybeans.
After the initial download, the app can be used regardless of a phone’s data connection – a useful feature for growers in rural areas where connectivity is limited. When a data connection is available, users will receive updates with new or revised information.
“Pesticides and pest complexes are continually changing, and this app will allow us to communicate those changes in real time instead of relying on annual print publications,” Taylor noted.
Pittsylvania County farmer Robert Mills said field farmers like him have needed an app like this for some time.
“It’s really good at identifying certain pests,” said Mills, a Virginia Farm Bureau Federation board member. “It removes one of those steps where we have to call someone or take a photo and send it to an extension worker or a crop specialist.”
The app also benefits farmers because “it’s all about speed and getting things done in a timely manner.
“I think it speeds up the process. Whether it’s a disease or an insect, how quickly you find them and how quickly you treat them is important,” Mills explained. “That’s the direction we’re going. We’re going to do some self-diagnosis on the pests we’re fighting at the time, and we’re going to want to find out what we need and then deal with it.
Taylor said they continue to add new data and improve the functionality of the smartphone app, creating a comprehensive platform with more disease, pest and weed management information for crops and other small grains.