Dec. 10, 2015
Crop protection is an issue of increasing concern in the farming community. Improved access to information about managing pests, weeds and diseases is needed as conventional pesticides are being lost due to evolution of resistance or because of changes in legislation. The CROPROTECT App is a novel smartphone App (for Android and iOS) and provides information for farmers and agronomists about pest, weed and disease management. It will be particularly useful in situations where effective pesticides are not available and alternative or integrated approaches are required such as agronomic practices, biological control methods or resistant crop varieties.
The CROPROTECT App enables even easier access to the information also available on the website https://croprotect.com/ and is an output from the CROPROTECT project that shares key information and management recommendations about target pests with farmers, agronomists and other end-users. The project is developing and providing a two-way web-based free knowledge exchange resource through which farmers and agronomists can get specific information relevant to their needs. Farmers and agronomists can also provide their feedback regarding the issues that they face in the farm. Dr Toby Bruce, Rothamsted Research senior scientist who co-ordinates CROPROTECT, discussed requirements with users and many of them said they wanted an App for improved accessibility.
Dr Toby Bruce commented: “We are listening to the needs of the farmers and agronomists. We know that they are the experts for their local fields and we are aiming to give decision support not decision making”.
“Indeed, the first pest, weed and disease targets have been selected based on number of votes from pioneer users of the system. The information on the system can be rapidly updated and is constantly growing” Dr Bruce added.
The overall intention of the project is to provide key pieces of information that farmers and agronomists need for their farm management. As the system evolves, it is envisaged that it will include more links to further online resources. Further engagement with the end-users will facilitate advancement of the tool, which is being built in partnership with users and in consultation with the online farming forum AgriChatUK, the AHDB levy board, agronomist organisations (Hutchinsons, Agrii and the AICC) and the National Farmers Union.
The CROPROTECT App is funded by the BBSRC-NERC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Innovation Club (SARIC), and the industry members of SARIC will also have the opportunity to contribute to the development of the technology. CROPROTECT is being developed by three crop protection experts from Rothamsted Research, which receives strategic funding by the BBSRC, with technical help from Ether Creative.