The definition of Precision Agriculture has evolved over 22 years and has more than a few associated acronyms (PA; SSCM=site-specific crop management; VRT=variable rate technology).

If one were to attempt to summarize the definition of PA: it involves awareness of growing conditions within a field and the use of technology as a decision support tool to maximize production efficiency while minimizing environmental impact of agricultural inputs.

We may be most familiar with PATs (Precision Agriculture Technologies) such as GPS-guided tractors or the use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles AKA “drones”) as imagery sensors or product applicators. So many acronyms! Other PATs include robot weeders and mechanized transplanters.

Check out The University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics promo video:

Resources closer to home include the UAS at OSU program, and a fellow Beaver blogger who has a great annotated resource list about Drones in Agriculture here.

Perhaps you’re not quite ready for autonomous tech. One simple and easy way to jump on the PA bandwagon is to use calibration tools. These are based on mathematical models of soil and crop parameters for a specific latitude, soil type, etc.. At the click of a button, they provide output estimates to help schedule irrigation, determine fertilizer needs, or predict harvest dates. These are in addition to the MANY mobile apps now available.

Univ. of Florida Irrigation scheduler (.xls)

Louisiana State Univ. Spreader calibration (.xls)

Oregon State University Croptime (web app)

Another new trend (and a way to sneak in one last acronym) is for companies to offer SaaS: Software as Service, like our friends at Valley Agronomics.

As you go about planning and planting this year, why not give these PA tools a try. The program developers are usually very receptive to comments, as it helps them improve the models, or know that they are working adequately.

DISCLAIMER: Mention or links to any of the products or services above do not imply endorsement.

 

Squash bugs have an elongated body shape and striped abdomen. Eggs are red and laid in clusters. Nymphs are gregarious, and progress in color from light gray to dark.

Anasa tristis is one of the squash bugs common in the PNW.

This pest is notoriously hard to detect, because they can hide on the underside of foliage, on plant stems, near irrigation lines, or even under fabric mulch.

Squash bugs use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed on leaf tissue and inject their saliva, which causes wilting of leaf tissue and, depending on the species, vectors cucurbit diseases.

Damage tends to be localized but can occur quickly because nymphs are gregarious, and feed alongside adults. If left undetected, vines eventually wilt and die.

Squash bugs have been a problem this year in the southeastern U.S., as noted by this news article.

According to a laboratory-based estimate, nymphal instars may be present in July, with a possible 2nd generation of adults in early August (model source: GDD58 single-sine, Fargo and Bonjour, 1988).

Consult this PNW Insect Management Handbook section for more info.

This page shows how to differentiate squash bug, BMSB, and other similar-looking bugs.