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Serving: IA
ARS Agronomist Creates Farmer-Friendly, Crop Growth Software

ARS Agronomist Creates Farmer-Friendly, Crop Growth Software

Program provides producers with info on when crop applications should be applied.

USDA agronomist Greg McMaster works at the Agricultural Research Service in Colorado and has created a computer software program that tells farmers when to spray pesticides. His decision to create the software came from answering calls from farmers and ranchers wondering when to spray their crops. PhenologyMMS - Modular Modeling System - predicts the timing of plant growth stages - telling farmers and ranchers how their crop is progressing and when pesticides, fertilizers and water should be applied.

The pesticide label gives the scientific name of the growth stage, but no other hints. McMaster's program gives common names to go with the scientific names and tells growers how to identify the stage and when to expect each stage, based on weather reports and soil moisture.

All farmers have to do to find the right timing is answer questions such as "What is your planting date?" and "How wet was your soil at planting time?" To answer this question, farmers choose one of these moisture level descriptions: "optimum," "medium," "dry" or "planted in dust." The last step is identifying the nearest weather station to access weather data to run a simplified model of crop growth for each crop chosen. The driving force of the program is cumulative temperature.

The program then simulates crop growth stages for the entire growing season, giving farmers a good idea of when each stage should occur.

McMaster's program is unique because it covers a variety of crops, including corn, wheat and barley, and provides common pesticide names along with the scientific names, making it easier to use for farmers and ranchers. All farmers have to do is answer questions about their planting date and soil moisture level at planting time. Then the program simulates crop growth stages for the entire season. Farmers can download the program by clicking HERE.

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