There’s an app for that
AGRONOMIC EXPERTISE IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND
GROWING A CROP can be a challenge in many ways for both farmers and agronomists — their goals are to grow a high-yielding and good-quality crop that can recoup the cost of production but also increase the income for the farm business. One way to overcome part of this challenge is using technology that can assist in making agronomic decisions that make the most sense.
For many growers, the cell phone in their pocket is an underutilized tool. There are hundreds of helpful applications (apps) that farmers can use — but how do you know where to start?
OPINIONS FROM EXPERTS
When asked what their favourite smartphone apps they use to assist in making agronomic decisions, here’s what two Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) field team staff and a grain grower had to say.
Colin Elgie, soil fertility specialist, OMAFRA
- Pesticide Labels (Government of Canada) — if you are unsure about information about any pesticides, you can use this app to search for pesticide labels.
- Pest Manager (OMAFRA) — if you are having difficulties identifying a pest or looking at options for controlling the pest, you can use this app to identify the pest based on a selection process. This includes the type of pest and further questions to get a potential answer.
- Soil Test Manager (OMAFRA) — if you are looking at soil sample results and need some assistance, this app helps clarify the sample’s information.
- AgriSuite (OMAFRA) — although this is a webpage, not an app, this is a great website to use if you want to create crop plans with access to OMAFRA’s tools and resources.
- Camera (iPhone) — the camera feature on the newer iPhones is very handy to help with weed identification in three simple steps. Take the picture, pull up the information about the picture by clicking on the information symbol, and Siri will give you an answer. If you use this feature, it is beneficial to confirm the answer you get with another source.
Laura Scott, cropping systems specialist, OMAFRA
- AgPhD Fertilizer remover by crop — assists the grower and the agronomist with fertilizer recommendations.
- WeatherLink — downloading this app will give you access to information about current environmental conditions based on the stations that are local to you.
- Storm Radar — if you are looking for accurate information about upcoming storms and weather data, give this app a try.
- Twitter — although this app is great for connection and networking, it is also a way to see what is going on in different areas.
- Crop Protection hub (OMAFRA) — this website is a valuable tool to use if you want to get Ontario-based pesticide information and potential solutions. Although this is not an app, it is a great website to bookmark.
Jason Byvelds, farmer, Holland Vale Inc. Iroquois, Ontario
- UniFi Protect and UniFi Network — these apps provide a security system protecting the farm and provide wifi to the farm through an UniFi device.
- Litchi — if you have a drone, this app is great for controlling it and taking photos.
- PictureThis — using this app can help identify weeds by taking a photo while out scouting.
- TractorHouse — this app can help a grower find equipment, parts, attachments, and auction results for their on-farm equipment.
- Climate FieldView – A grower can connect virtually with their agronomist to create precision application maps both on a computer and in the app. This app can also track data from planting to harvest and throughout the season, which is useful to both growers and agronomists.
Many other smartphone apps and websites may not be listed, but they can be useful to help make agronomic decisions. Talk to your agronomist or an OMAFRA extension specialist to find out what smartphone apps might work for you and your farm business.
As technology continues to advance, more apps will be developed that will be helpful for making agronomic and farm business decisions. Across Canada and globally, with smartphone apps, websites and digital connections of growers and agronomic specialists across the world, we will be able to grow better crops and better farm businesses. •