Software helps farmers and ranchers spot critical changes in crop growth stages.
Subject: Pesticides (Usage)
Growth (Plants) (Reports)
Computer software industry (Management)
Author: Comis, Don
Pub Date: 05/01/2011
Publication: Name: Agricultural Research Publisher: U.S. Government Printing Office Audience: Academic; General Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Agricultural industry; Biotechnology industry; Business Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 U.S. Government Printing Office ISSN: 0002-161X
Issue: Date: May-June, 2011 Source Volume: 59 Source Issue: 5
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Product: Product Code: 2879020 Pesticide Preparations; 2879000 Pesticides & Other Ag Chemicals; 2879820 Predator Control Products; 2879822 Predator Poisons NAICS Code: 32532 Pesticide and Other Agricultural Chemical Manufacturing SIC Code: 2879 Agricultural chemicals, not elsewhere classified; 7372 Prepackaged software
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 273420953
Full Text: Greg McMaster has built a computer program, Phenology MMS (Modular Modeling System), that predicts the timing of plant growth stages so that Central Great Plains farmers and ranchers can know how their crop is progressing and when to apply pesticides, fertilizers, and water. PhenologyMMS also helps them time other management tasks. McMaster developed this decision-support tool after answering numerous calls from farmers and ranchers who wondered when their crop would be at the right stage to spray as required by the pesticide label.

McMaster is an agronomist at the Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Agricultural Systems Research Unit in Fort Collins, Colorado.

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 stages and when to expect them, based on weather reports and soil moisture.

To find the right timing, farmers 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 descriptions of soil moisture: "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 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 says the program is unique because it covers many crops. Most such programs cover only one crop. "This program includes corn, wheat, barley, sorghum, dry beans, sunflowers, and several millet varieties and is continually being expanded," McMaster says.

The program can beused independently or inserted into existing crop-growth models. It can be downloaded at Phenology MMS.--By Don Comis, ARS.

Gregory S. McMaster is in the USDAARS Agricultural Systems Research Unit, 2150 Centre Ave., FortCollins, CO 80526; (970) 492-7340,*
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