Scout for the Best App

February 11, 2017 02:49 AM
Scout for the Best App

After making the effort to scout, you want that work to pay off. If your notes get lost, you could be at a disadvantage when planning inputs for the rest of the season or next year. 

Technology can offer better control and use of scouting notes. Learn how apps can enhance the benefits of scouting and influence input decisions based on numerous features.

Before you head to the field, find an app that, at a minimum, allows you to take pictures and record detailed notes attached to geographic locations to keep an eye on problem areas throughout the season.

Once you’ve decided on an app, take time to input data on planting, tillage, nutrient levels and herbicide applications. Knowing where you’ve applied what helps you benchmark product and practice success.

“Make thorough early season trips to your fields,” advises Stuart McCulloh, ScoutPro director of customer success. “The best time to get out there is when the plant is small. Identify early season issues you can come back and check on and track emergence and herbicide efficacy.”

When midseason rolls around, use the information you’ve collected on your scouting app to make fungicide, herbicide, insecticide and sidedressing decisions. Knowing the ins and outs of your fields lets you strategically spend time and resources on the areas that could benefit most.

“You can look across your operation in one glance to visualize your fields with advanced satellite imagery tools,” says Luke Samuel, The Climate Corporation commercial product director. “You still need to scout your fields, but this allows you to hone in on specific areas of concern.”

Double up scouting efforts by sharing with others. Many apps allow you to “share” information with specified advisers and vice versa. “The more people who look at info the more informed decisions you can make,” explains Brad Mason, Winfield United ag technology specialist.

If you see an odd-looking weed, possible herbicide damage or something you just can’t quite figure out, sharing a picture or description might be the trick to finding an answer. After you know what’s going on, some apps will allow you to easily work with advisers by adding them as contributors or users on your farm. When added, advisers can add notes to your fields, see your notes and help you make decisions if a problem arises.

Find an app that includes features that best fit your needs. For example, not all apps have aerial imagery, but not everyone will use it either. 

Decide how involved you want to be in your app—do you want to enter in multiyear yield, fertilizer, field notes and weather information? How much information do you want to get from it—do you want daily reports, notifications of weather events and fertilizer use details? What, if anything, are you willing to spend?

“You can easily use apps to save money,” Mason says. “Track hybrids and varieties, fungicides, herbicides, etc. See what’s actually worth the investment at the end of the season.”

Look into tools such as aerial imagery to help prioritize your time and resources, especially if you’re unable to physically visit every field.

“Being able to see things, such as potential disease or insect damage, on your phone or iPad every one to two weeks helps you be proactive,” Samuel says. “Apps can give you a broader look at fields and help you prioritize.”

Whether you’re looking for a simple app to take notes or something that provides field imagery and more detailed information, such as fertilizer use rates or vegetative health, be sure to get the maximum benefit out of each app. While inputting information on the front end and in-season might take extra work, it could help you make money and time-saving decisions for your farm’s future.

“At the end of the day, remember garbage in, garbage out,” McCulloh says. “An app doesn’t solve everything—they’re meant to be an extension of what you’re already doing.”  

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