A new app, developed for smartphones and tablets by researchers and Extension personnel with University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, allows farmers and scouts to save time and money by finding and using the most effective treatments available for stink bugs.
Cotton farmers and scouts began using the Georgia Cotton Insect Advisor app this summer. It gave them an advantage in managing the potentially economically devastating pest, said Michael Toews, a UGA research entomologist who helped to develop the app.
“If a grower or a scout selects the wrong product for treatment, they can actually aggravate the condition, and it will end up costing them more money in the long run. If you have an app in your hand, it allows you to make research-based decisions to maximize profits,” said Toews, who works on the UGA Tifton Campus.
With the Insect Advisor app, growers or scouts can enter the conditions in their field and the app suggests the chemical applications that are needed. The ability for researchers to update the information instantaneously is what makes the app a must-have and why it was a success this cotton season, Toews said.
“The beauty of the app is, if we see insecticide resistance develop, we can change recommendations in the app and there will be an automatic update that goes out. Everybody will have the most up-to-date information in the palm of their hand as opposed to waiting a year for a new handbook to come out,” he added. “Many of these recommendations and product selection choices are in the pest management handbook. But that’s about a 5-pound paper book, which doesn’t work well when you’re carrying it in the field. This app allows you to have all that information in your hands.”
In cooperation with the UGA Department of Entomology and with support from Cotton Incorporated, the Insect Advisor app was developed at the UGA Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.
The development of an app was necessary because of the economic impact stink bugs have on cotton every year. With piercing-sucking mouth parts, stink bugs feed on cotton bolls, destroy the seeds and prohibit the growth of the lint, the harvestable part of the cotton. With the app, farmers can find the correct treatments quickly and take appropriate action.
“Approximately half of our cotton acres in Georgia are scouted by a commercial scout. For the other half, those treatment decisions are made by the grower. We want to make sure that all of these folks have the most up-to-date information in their hands,” Toews said.
The app currently only provides treatments for stink bugs in cotton. Toews said plans are being made to include additional insect species in the future.
To download the Georgia Cotton Insect Advisor app or view the other applications available from the Center for Invasive Species, visit apps.bugwood.org.
(Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)