SUFFOLK, Va. — Using modern technology ensures farmers can produce more efficient, maximum crop yields, and now there’s a new tool of the trade—a smartphone app that helps growers keep damaging pests at bay.
The new MyIPM Row Crop app helps farmers identify crop pests and diseases and provides pest management information like 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 producers as possible to help them minimize costs and crop losses from insects, diseases and weeds,” explained Sally Taylor, an associate professor of row crop entomology at Virginia Tech, who contributed to the app’s development.
The app was created by Clemson University with the support of the Southern Region Integrated Pest Management Center and other university researchers in mid-Atlantic and Southeastern states. Free in 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 helpful 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 as opposed to relying on annual print publications,” Taylor noted.
Robert Mills, a farmer in Pittsylvania County, said row crop farmers like himself have needed an app like this for a while.
“It is really good for identifying certain pests,” said Mills, a Virginia Farm Bureau Federation board member. “It takes out one of those steps where we have to call somebody or take a picture of it and send it to an extension agent or crop specialist.”
The app also benefits farmers because “everything is about speed and getting things done in a timely manner.
“I think it speeds the process up. Whether it’s a disease or an insect, it matters how quickly you find them and how quickly you deal with them,” Mills explained. “This is the direction we’re going. We’re going to be doing self-diagnostics on pests we’re combating at the time, and we’re going to want to find out what we need and then take care of it.”
Taylor said they’re continuing to add new data and enhance the smartphone app’s features—creating a comprehensive platform with more disease, pest and weed management information for crops and other small grains.
–Virginia Farm Bureau