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High-tech aphid scouting
If you're finding a few soybean aphids in your fields this summer and you've got the hardware, a new application can help you stay on top of the common pest. A new app for Apple's iPad helps farmers scout for soybean aphids and keep track of ongoing scouting data.
The app, available free of charge in the Apple iTunes Store, was developed by University of Nebraska Extension, namely UNL Extension educator Wayne Ohnesorg, who said he came up with the idea after taking his iPad with him to the field and wondering how he could put it to work.
To start, add the name and number of acres for each field you're scouting. "The concept is really simple," Ohnesorg says. The app is based on Excel spreadsheets and is slated for availability on other mobile devices this year.
The app offers full instructions for scouting and data collection, from where to scout in the field to how to record aphid populations if you find them.
"Scouts go into a field, select a soybean plant at random and count the number of aphids on the plant. If 40 aphids are counted, the scout stops counting and deems the plant infested. A '1' is entered in the app," according to a university report. "If the number is less than 40, a '0' is entered in the app. The scout does this 11 times."
If some aphids are observed, but not enough to warrant treatment, the app allows you to set a reminder for when to scout again. The app will "advise producers to treat for soybean aphids, to come back in seven to 10 days for another test or to sample five more plants."
When scouting the field, the app offers a simulated leaf graphic, where you can indicate the approximate number of aphids found.
All the data from scouting -- sample date, field name, field size, aphid count and "final result," -- is collected in the app and kept in a "history" to be referenced later.