New online tool helps soy farmers in the field
What should I be scouting for in my soybeans today? In two weeks? What cultural practices might affect disease development?
A new online tool from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers timely pest management information, recommended tasks, and UNL research results to tackle Nebraska’s primary soybean pests.
Developed by University of Nebraska-Lincoln doctoral student Josh Miller with financial support from the Nebraska Soybean Board, the Soybean Management Calendar is now available at CropWatch.unl.edu/SoyCal.
“This tool is organized in a way that makes sense to growers for timely decision-making,” Miller said. Disease, insect, and weed information is available in a calendar format with a “Current Tasks” section that outlines pest management steps to focus on now.
"This management tool is a really good means to help growers quickly identify when different pests are likely to be attacking their crop," said Victor Bohuslavsky, executive director of the Nebraska Soybean Board. "We're glad that this will be available to our soybean growers for the 2016 season."
Pest management involves a complex web of interactions among weed, disease, and insect pressures, cultural practices and weather, Miller said. SoyCal creates an information hub identifying which pressures are greatest at that point in the season and what steps producers can take to address them. It includes short management tips, photos to aid in pest identification, video demonstrations, and links to more detailed information in CropWatch.unl.edu. The Exploratory Research Section “boils down” results of research projects funded by the Nebraska Soybean Board so growers can implement the findings that apply to their operations, he said. The research covers a range of topics in disease, weed, and insect management and soybean production.
Miller realized the need for a mobile friendly tool like SoyCal based on his work as an agronomist with a mid Atlantic independent ag retailer for eight years.
Figure 1. SoyCal, a new Soybean Management Calendar, identifies when to be watching for and treating which pests in your soybean fields. It also features summaries of Nebraska soybean research.
SoyCal reflects how Miller approaches his research and his work, taking a systems-based approach to crop production and pest management issues. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Maryland where his studies focused on cell and molecular biology and plant genetics. After working in industry, Miller wanted to pursue advanced degrees that would allow him the flexibility of studying cropping systems while also pursuing a specialized course of study. UNL offered the benefits Miller sought. He is currently a student in the Doctor of Plant Health (DPH) program and pursuing a doctorate in plant pathology. Miller’s PhD advisor is Loren Giesler, professor in the UNL Department of Plant Pathology and his DPH advisor is Gary Hein, DPH director.
To start, select a field location on a map and input planting date and seed maturity. The display then adjusts its season length and plant growth stage to the settings. Growers can then choose to explore Current Tasks or Disease, Weed or Insect Management calendars to identify pest scouting and treatment windows. For example, under today's date for soybean cyst nematode, recommended activities would include sampling, variety selection (which also links to related research), sanitation, water management, rotation (with research link) and chemical control. The selection also links to in-field plant pathology videos on sampling for and managing soybean cyst nematodes and other resources.
UNL web specialists who worked with Miller to develop SoyCal are Nic Colgrove in IANR Media, who helped developed the concept and prototype, and Eric Rasmussen in UNL’s Information Technology Services, who programmed and populated the site.
SoyCal is linked to another UNL Web tool, SoyWater.unl.edu, for seasonal plant development information. SoyWater was also developed with support from the Nebraska Soybean Board.