University-developed apps aid Arizona cotton farmers
University of ArizaonKey indicators, such as the nitrate-nitrogen content of cotton petioles and height-to-node radio, are employed by Mobile Cotton and can help growers decide where to apply fertilizer or plant growth regulator. Mobile and Web apps aren't just for tweeting your thoughts or posting your status. The University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has created high-tech mobile and Web applications to help cotton farmers manage their crops.
Arizona growers can now use a smartphone or tablet anywhere – in the field, at home or on the other side of the world – to manage everything from plant growth and irrigation scheduling to disease control.
Mobile Cotton went live this spring, providing cotton growers and crop consultants with the ability to make decisions based on scientific data provided by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
A second app, Differentiating Diseases of Early Season Cotton, helps growers identify and treat diseases, with the goal of preventing new diseases from taking hold in the state. Both apps are free and appear to be the first of their kind specific to Arizona cotton.
They were developed by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications and Technologies team, or CCT, in partnership with faculty and UA Cooperative Extension specialists.
"We noticed our stakeholders – our growers – were using mobile devices," said Pedro Andrade-Sánchez, an assistant specialist in agricultural and biosystems engineering who is based at the Maricopa Agricultural Center.
"That is when the idea came – why not create this tool that can be accessed through your mobile device so growers can make decisions about their crops based on their own measurements and on models that were developed by UA scientists," he said.
He worked with other UA experts to develop a Web app that would provide vital information and be simple to use. Among the collaborators was Randy Norton, resident director of the Safford Agricultural Center and associate regional specialist with the UA Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science.
"Growers can now run a good part of their business from their phone or their tablet," Norton said.
Mobile Cotton uses cotton growth models developed by Norton and Jeff Silvertooth, professor of soil, water and environmental science and director of UA Cooperative Extension. Using a system of heat units, cotton growth can be predicted based on temperature over a period of time. Growers can compare the development of their crops to what would be expected.