This is the year of the “smart tag” or “QR” (quick response) code. Have you noticed the intrigu-ing little boxes with geometric designs on everything from ketchup bottles to magazine advertisements?
When scanned by a smart phone or other mobile device, these tags direct the user to a website or web page for more information. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is now using QR codes to connect gardeners to UGA publications.
Through the GardenPro program, QR codes displayed in area garden centers lead gardeners to information on a variety of gardening topics formatted especially for mobile devices.
To view the information, you must first download one of the free QR reader apps like Google Goggles or Barcode Scanner for Android phones and RedLaser or ShopSavvy for iPhones. To scan the QR tag, launch the app and line up your phone’s camera with the barcode-like box until the app has recognized the tag. Your phone’s web browser will be led to a UGA website with more information about the item you’ve scanned – for example, a plant, gardening tool or fertilizer product.
With GardenPro, you also can choose to receive periodic alerts with timely information from your local UGA Extension office. To sign up, click on the green “Get GardenPro Tips” button and provide your email address.
The UGA Center for Urban Agriculture piloted GardenPro in the fall of 2011. The current GardenPro posters lead users to information on winter gardening topics like fire ant control, attracting birds and butterflies and protecting plants. The spring topics will include turf management and deer-resistant plants.
Watch for the UGA GardenPro smart tags at your area garden centers this spring and learn while you shop.
(Kris Braman is an entomology professor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and director of the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture.)