Field Scouting Apps Boost Efficiency, Speed

Grower Retaile iPad
Mobile apps are helping ag retailers and consultants take their scouting services to the next level.

Scouting is one of the most critical services that ag retailers and consultants can offer their grower-customers. The need for accurate information about crop conditions, including weeds, insects and other pests, has never been greater.

[Related: 17 Field Scouting Apps For Precision Agriculture]

There’s a lot riding on a successful scouting program. Improved yields and higher profits are much harder to achieve if scouting is not done as fast and efficiently as possible. Timing is of the essence. And with the number of acres to cover and pests to manage seemingly increasing every year, this can be a daunting challenge for even the most experienced precision ag professional.

Fortunately, technology has helped greatly when it comes to crop scouting. One tool in particular that ag retailers and consultants are adding to their scouting program is the mobile app. PrecisionAg Professional recently caught up with several developers to gain insight into what makes the field scouting app such a valuable tool, as well as one retailer that has made work easier by using it.

The Need For Speed, Ease Of Use

Speed is one of the most important attributes of effective scouting. Acting on a pest problem quickly can only happen if it’s identified and recorded quickly. That’s where the mobile scouting app comes into play.

Fields Nearby feature on AgraScout app
The Fields Nearby feature in AgraScout locates the user’s position and instantly plots all their customers’ fields around them on a map.

Take the AgraScout app for instance. Developer Neucadia made some major enhancements to its flagship product in 2014 with time savings and ease of use in mind.

“We had customers in Wisconsin who were rained out until early July, so when they finally got into the field they needed a scouting program that made scouting quicker and easier,” says Brandon Warner, Director of Sales and Marketing. “We realized that if our program wasn’t dead simple to use, we would miss opportunities to fulfill our mission.”

The team responded to customer feedback by building a new feature to make scouting with AgraScout even faster. The Fields Nearby feature locates the user’s position and instantly plots all their customers’ fields around them on a map. Clicking on a field gives the user a range of options: view all the recent findings for that field, get driving directions to the entrance, schedule it to be scouted later or jump right in and start scouting.

Mobile apps also improve upon the traditional way of scouting with a field notebook, says Liron Brish, CEO of Farm Dog Technologies, which recently launched an app called Farm Dog Scout.

“It’s a pain being in the field juggling your notebook, phone camera, the everlasting search for the red ribbon marker you placed in the field last week, and your email/messaging application,” he says. “Farm Dog integrates all of those functions into one, saving growers and scouts 45 minutes per day.”

Standardized data collection through the mobile app also helps to improve traditional scouting methods, says Zachary Baiel, Director of Customer Relations, Spensa Technologies, which features the OpenScout among its app offerings.

“With OpenScout, standardized data collection ensures that each scout is recording the correct information each and every trip,” he says.

OpenScout Dispatch
Precision Dispatch feature within the OpenScout app allows scouts to assess pest problems across a field or specific locations within a field.

Data collection is enhanced further with the app’s Precision Dispatch feature, which allows scouts to assess pest problems across a field or specific locations within a field. “With Spensa’s Precision Dispatch feature, OpenScout users know which fields to scout and what to look for, which saves time and money for every service provider.”

Capturing consistent data via a mobile scouting solution can also help improve workflow, adds Stuart McColloh, Director of Customer Success at ScoutPro, which develops a scouting program for the iPad.

“Handwritten notes and thumbing through note pages do not create efficient movement in a field,” he says. “With location services, scouting on an iPad gives the scout a real-time view of where they are in the field, especially when the corn is above their head. Workflow for the scout is crucial, each type of scout has different needs and an app can provide custom usage based on shortcuts, favorites, search indices and a host of other features that scouting on a paper form or excel sheet cannot provide.”

In addition, ScoutPro customers can effectively scout for an entire day without needing to be connected to WiFi or have cell data streaming. “No matter the scout, the ScoutPro app provides consistency and efficiency.”

The scouting team at Willard Agri-Service has grown to appreciate the value a good scouting app. Natasha Field, Sales Support Representative & Organic Coordinator, has been scouting with Willard for several years. She says the company’s former process of scouting was extremely time-consuming.

“If we had pictures to document from the trip, the process would take on average 10 minutes per field,” she says. “Generally at our busiest time of the season we’re doing anywhere between 7 to 10 fields, and sometimes up to 15 fields if they’re smaller. Because we had to record each field individually, we could spend up to an hour each day just on compiling and sending our scouting reports.”

Willard then started using the OpenScout app. The process now takes about 5 minutes each day, versus an hour, allowing Willard scouts to spend more time scouting in the grower’s fields and less time reporting. Scouts at Willard like the ease of use and the intuitiveness of the OpenScout solution. Field says Willard hires interns to help scout each year, but there can be a significant turnover each season. “The Willard team appreciates how simple it is to train new scouts on the OpenScout solution as there are only two components: the mobile app and the website,” she says.

Enhancing Grower-Customer Relationships

One of the side benefits of using a scouting app is improved customer service. Farmers who receive instant, accurate information on crop conditions will trust their service provider even more when it comes to treatment recommendations.

Simon Parrington, Commercial Director at SOYL, says his company’s iSOYLscout app enables scouted data to be wirelessly and efficiently transferred between field and office, and be made easily available to customers.

“iSOYLscout gives the consultant the ability to record observations accurately and to share the observations through the central mySOYL website where the data is uploaded,” he says. “The consultant and his customer both have visibility of the data. Variable application plans can be accurately produced, thus communication between the two parties is improved.”

Improved communication via the scout app ultimately leads to strengthened relationships between farmers and service providers, says Spensa’s Baiel. “The mobile application helps retailers and consultants demonstrate the value of their scouting service to their customers through relevant data and intuitive reporting,” he says.

Farm Dog’s Brish agrees. “The relationship between the service provider and the grower is strong, oftentimes going back many years,” he says. “The mobile app strengthens the relationship between the two, allowing for improved communication and problem-solving, which in turn leads to increased yields and reduced costs. As the industry evolves, it is important to remember that agriculture is both relationship-based and a business, and we believe that the best solutions being brought to the industry should respect both of those qualities.”

McColloh says scouting can be positioned by service providers to show ROI to growers on a variety of field practices. “If a grower chooses ‘X’ weed management program, then an agronomist can scout and find the good and the not so good of choosing that weed management program,” he says. “We can then determine with confidence the ROI of that weed management program. Mobile scouting only helps that.”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Field Scouting Apps Boost Efficiency, Speed

Service Providers Stories
Business ManagementIvy Tech, Farmers Partner to Help Precision Ag Education
September 20, 2018
Harvest time has taken on a new meaning for some Wabash Valley farmers, and Bobbi Hunt-Kincaid hopes her family’s first Read More
PenelopeNagel
Business ManagementWhy Is Funding a Challenge for Women-Led Agtech Companies?
September 17, 2018
When it comes to women-led agtech companies the funding discussion never seems to cease. In June after the The New Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsDeere-Granular Collaboration Produces New Profit Maps Tool
September 14, 2018
The newest development from the ongoing John Deere-Granular product development and marketing collaboration is Profit Maps, now available to farmers Read More
Business ManagementTop 20 Two-Year Colleges for Precision Agriculture
September 10, 2018
Earlier this year, I compiled a list of the 25 best colleges for precision agriculture. It was quite the process. Read More
Trending Articles
Soil-Hand
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Grower-Retailer
Imagery/SensingAgtech: 10 Things I Hate About You!
September 4, 2018
Before you get bent out of shape from the title, remember if you’ve read my articles before you know I Read More
Kansas State University
Industry NewsKansas State University, Topcon Form Precision Ag Research Partnership
August 30, 2018
Kansas State University and Topcon Agriculture are collaborating to develop tools and systems to advance precision agriculture and support farmers. Read More
Blockchain building block graphic
Specialty CropsIs Blockchain the Future of Food Safety?
August 24, 2018
When the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) was standardized in 1982, permitting the worldwide proliferation of interconnected networks and eventually the Read More
WinField’s Joel Wipperfurth On Empowering Data-Driven Decisions
InfoAg ConferenceOne on One with Joel Wipperfurth, Winfield United
August 15, 2018
Winfield United's Joel Wipperfurth discusses ag technology trends and topics during last month’s InfoAg Conference. Read More
Geosys
Industry NewsUrtheCast to Acquire Geosys from Land O’Lakes in $20 Million Deal
August 15, 2018
UrtheCast Corp. and Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced they have entered a binding term sheet for the purchase of Geosys Read More
Latest News
Business ManagementIvy Tech, Farmers Partner to Help Precision Ag Educatio…
September 20, 2018
Harvest time has taken on a new meaning for some Wabash Valley farmers, and Bobbi Hunt-Kincaid hopes her family’s first Read More
Sensors
Sensors/IoTThe Answer to Agriculture’s Daunting Challenges – Soil …
September 20, 2018
According to the United Nations, 9.6 billion people will live on planet Earth by 2050. Feeding these mouths will require Read More
Google-Earth-Map-featured-image
Data ManagementRainfall Revisited: Accurate Observations and Beyond
September 18, 2018
As a provider of weather analysis and forecast services to the agricultural industry, one of the most common questions I Read More
PenelopeNagel
Business ManagementWhy Is Funding a Challenge for Women-Led Agtech Compani…
September 17, 2018
When it comes to women-led agtech companies the funding discussion never seems to cease. In June after the The New Read More
Mobile Phone in field
Decision Support SoftwareWhy Are 570 Million Farmers Not Yet Using Agricultural …
September 17, 2018
Until recently, using agricultural apps and software was a rare practice among growers. This is now changing. The mass adoption Read More
Soil-Hand
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsDeere-Granular Collaboration Produces New Profit Maps T…
September 14, 2018
The newest development from the ongoing John Deere-Granular product development and marketing collaboration is Profit Maps, now available to farmers Read More
Wingtra
DronesOpinion: Combining Two Pluses with the WingtraOne UAV
September 13, 2018
For the every-day consumer interested in UAVs, there is an ocean of products from which to choose. This includes the Read More
Farmer-tablet
AsiaShould Agri-Input Manufacturers Outsource E-Commerce to…
September 12, 2018
Editor’s note: Venky Ramachandran is a contributing writer for PrecisionAg.com’s sister site, AgriBusinessGlobal.com. This article was originally published on LinkedIn. Now, Read More
ICON-Link-Licensing_featured-image
Industry NewsValley Irrigation Adds Remote Irrigation Management Opt…
September 11, 2018
Valley Irrigation, an industry leader in smart irrigation solutions, has announced enhancements to its remote management technologies. Multi-Year Licensing In Read More
Reflex-Connect-Agri-Inject-featured-image
Variable Rate ApplicationVariable Rate Fertigation System Expands with Mobile Co…
September 10, 2018
Building on the success of its Reflex Variable Rate Fertigation system, Agri-Inject has taken fluid injection to the next level Read More
Industry NewsTeralytic Earns Ag Data Transparent Certification
September 10, 2018
Soil analytics company Teralytic has completed the Ag Data Transparent certification, affirming that their data use is private, secure, and Read More
Business ManagementTop 20 Two-Year Colleges for Precision Agriculture
September 10, 2018
Earlier this year, I compiled a list of the 25 best colleges for precision agriculture. It was quite the process. Read More
Industry NewsRaven, Topcon Announce Slingshot API Agreement
September 6, 2018
Raven Industries and Topcon Agriculture announced today a licensing agreement for Topcon Agriculture’s use of the Slingshot Application Programming Interface Read More
Tablet Grower
Data ManagementThe Power of Predictive Analytics in Agriculture
September 5, 2018
Years ago if we would have been told computers, data, and technology would be scattered around every farm there may Read More
DronessenseFly Launches eBee X Drone, Breaks Through 1,000 ac…
September 5, 2018
senseFly today reportedly sets a new standard in mapping tools with the launch of the eBee X. Launched with the Read More
AmericasOn The Scene: 2018 Farm Progress Show Wrap Up
September 5, 2018
Former Monsanto President (now Bayer CropScience Chief Operating Office) Brett Begemann’s opening salvo during his first appearance at a Farm Read More
EventsAg Experts Discuss Big Data Challenges in Agriculture
September 5, 2018
Agricultural experts at a Houston conference praised the advancements in unmanned aerial vehicles, sensors, and data-collecting technology used in precision Read More