The University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) has created two high-tech mobile and web applications to help cotton farmers manage their crops.
These applications help Arizona cotton growers to manage everything from plant growth and irrigation scheduling to disease control by using a smartphone or tablet anywhere – in the field, at home or on the other side of the world.
The first app ‘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 of Arizona. Both apps are free and appear to be the first of their kind specific to Arizona cotton.
These apps were developed by the Communications and Technologies (CCT) team of the college, in partnership with faculty and University of Arizona (UA) Cooperative Extension specialists, according to UA press release.
‘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.
Much of the data used in the app's Cotton Calculator comes from the UA's Arizona Meteorological Network (AZMET). Paul Brown, a specialist in the UA Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, carefully operates and maintains AZMET to provide meteorological data to agricultural and horticultural interests across Arizona.
Using the Cotton Calculator, a grower in Marana, for instance – after a few simple plant measurements – can determine through the web app just how his or her crops are faring compared to what would be expected in the area. If a crop is slow to grow, increased fertilizer or irrigation might be advised. If the crop is experiencing fast growth with lower than average levels of fruit retention, a plant growth regulator application might be required.
Mary Olsen, plant pathology specialist in the UA School of Plant Sciences, designed the ‘Differentiating Diseases of Early Season Cotton’ web application working with the CALS Programming and Web Development group, part of CALS Communications and Technologies.
This web app provides information on treating disease, and users can send photos of plants with suspected disease to Olsen with a few simple touches.