Scouting: From Bird's Eye View to Worm's Eye View
Walking the fields continues to take giant steps forward. Scouting apps are ratcheting up functionality and features to provide more value to users.
“AgVenture Regional Seed Companies (RSCs) are constantly on the lookout for tools that support their efforts to provide the highest level of agronomic expertise,” says Chuck Schneider, AgVenture regional business development manager. “We’re fierce proponents of scouting and of doing what’s necessary to gather the most accurate in-field information. Our AgVenture Yield Specialists (AYSs) are seasoned professionals who walk the fields with their farmer customers to gain an in-depth understanding of each farm’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities."
Image 1. Use the right map for the right time of year
to improve your in-field efficiency.
AgVenture is known for its more-than-seed approach by providing season-long insight, recommendations and intelligence, in addition to seed. Apps such as ScoutPro complement the resources that AYSs use to assure the efficient gathering of consistent, accurate information. Schneider says, “The information we gather forms the basis of an in-season management plan that we create jointly with our customers.”
ScoutPro, founded in 2011, is an app that assists scouts with identifying weeds, insects, disease and disorders while in the field. Using their smartphones or tablets, farmers are able to upload important field data, images and notes to generate field-specific scouting reports. Stuart McCulloh, director of customer service and co-founder of ScoutPro, is pleased to announce that the software has been updated to include the capturing and use of satellite images.
Image 2. ScoutPro users may choose to use the built-in ID keys for
the specific crop they’re scouting. Use shortcuts to quickly
add known pest issues.
Satellite images depict farmers’ fields in detail, allowing them to spot variations that can indicate problems. Comparing images of the same acres over time will alert farmers to changes and potential trouble spots. It’s up to the AYS to interpret what the images are communicating and formulate a plan to take corrective action. McCulloh points out that the images won’t necessarily indicate whether things are good or bad. “What the images will show is that one part of a field is different from another. That’s the first step. From there, it’s up to the agronomist to physically check it out,” he says.
Image 3. ScoutPro customers share interactive
scouting reports showing locations of
stand counts and values.
McCulloh believes that most of the imagery will be used later in the growing season to monitor crop progress. “Image surveillance
simplifies collecting data from the field when plants are tall and thick. It’s tough to get through large fields quickly when you’re walking. And the other thing is that when you’re in that crop jungle, you can see only as far as the leaves will allow. Satellite imagery gives you a more worldly view—a broader view—of what’s going on,” he says. “It’s a great tool that can help farmers use inputs more efficiently and accurately to optimize production.”
“Scouting apps and aerial image capabilities don’t take the place of boots on the ground,” Schneider says, “but they add value and
supplement the in-field information gathering RSCs have been doing since day one. We’re always on the lookout for the most advanced technology to strengthen our product and service offerings.”