To make updating refuge planting plans easier, the National Corn Growers Association now offers the Insect Resistance Management calculator in a handy mobile application.

To find out how the calculator works and why complying with refuge requirements is important to all farmers, Off the Cob spoke with NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmermann, a farmer from Rosendale, Wis. A strong advocate of the responsible use of biotechnology, he began by explaining what the tool actually does.

"The IRM Refuge calculator is a tool that allows growers to develop a resistance management plan for corn rootworm and corn borer traited products they use on their farm," he explained. "By selecting the traits they plan to use, farmers can determine the refuge amount that is required with the proper consideration and distance."

As a farmer, Zimmerman is familiar with the wide variety of refuge requirements and how broadly they can vary from product to product. Yet, while acting as a good steward of biotechnology does take effort, he notes that it benefits every farmer to do so.

"There are a lot of different product offerings with different refuge requirements," said Zimmerman. "It is important because proper refuge compliance is what we can do to prevent resistance and maintain trait durability. It is about good stewardship, just like it is with any other resource we manage."

Zimmerman uses the IRM calculator on his own farm, and he explains that the IRM calculator app for smartphones and tablets provides a practical way to change plans without leaving the field.

"What I like about the IRM calculator smartphone app is that it makes it easy," he explained. "Farmers know that plans change for a number of reasons, mostly due to weather. The smartphone app allows you to account for these changes and adjust on the go."

The IRM calculator app is available for the iPhone through iTunes. The Android app is available through Google Play. To access or download the NCGA calculator, please visit http://www.irmcalculator.com/.

While proper refuge planning can be confusing given the host of differing requirements associated with each variety, farmers have many allies who can act as resources. Generally the first and most important resource, seed dealers and crop consultants will help explain requirements and aide in planning.

Farmers interested in reading information supplied directly by seed companies should access the Insect Resistance Management and Technology User Guide supplied by each company.

In addition to proper refuge planning, NCGA also recommends that growers pay attention to any signs of insect pressure in their fields and acquaint themselves with more advanced integrated pest management solutions. By keeping up-to-date on all options, farmers increase the tools readily available in their arsenal should the need arise.

To listen to the full interview, click here.