What is scouting?
Crop scouting is a crucial step in pest and disease management. It allows farm managers to quantify the pressure of a pest or diseases within a field. Whenever a crop is being grown, there is always the chance of that crop being attacked by insects or plant pathogens which can cause devastating crop losses if they are not found early enough for preventative measures to be put in place.
Scouting is essentially monitoring your fields for the presence of pests and diseases or any potential issues that could obstruct crop growth (irrigation leaks, trellis breakages, etc.). Planning a scout is also an important task. Scouts should plan to walk either an ‘A’, ‘Z’ or ‘W’ through your block (depending on its size) to make sure that you cover all bases.
Advantages of field scouting with Aeroview Scout include:
- Making immediate decisions based on the pest/disease thresholds
- Tracking trends of pests and natural enemies within a season
- Making decisions based on the comparison of results between seasons
- Preparing the farmer for these threats in the future
We’re using new technology which makes scouting simple and enables farmers to keep precise, GPS-referenced records of their scouts and input which pests & diseases are present. It allows you to track your scout movements through the farm. This is largely preferred over the tedious, disorganised paper & pencil method previously used. It saves the hassle of keeping physical documents of your scouts as everything can be done by the click of a button from your smartphone or tablet.
- It’s environmentally sound
- It’s economically viable
- It saves you time, money and headaches
- It allows you to predict future threats and problems
- There’s no point in applying pesticides to your fields where the damage is insignificant — that would be a waste of your resources
- Scouting will give you an overview of where exactly to use pesticides
While having background information on your crop is not a prerequisite for scouting, it serves as a great tool for recognising damage and linking the damage to possible causes. Scouting can thus be based on prior knowledge of the crop and field conditions and farm management history. This information can be frequently obtained or drawn from personal experience; however, it can also be obtained from:
- Weather data
- Farm management records
- Aerial imagery (drones and satellites)
- Soil maps
- Other farm managers
What to look for:
In order to efficiently scout for pests, you need to know where they live, what they look like, and how to find them.
Efficient scouting requires you to get in there and take a close look at what’s going on within your fields.
Make sure you turn the leaves over to get a good look at the underside. Look out for protected, damp areas under plants as these are often favourite places for insects or diseases. Scouts should have a good understanding on crop phenology, pest life cycles, pest symptoms, environmental risk factors and strategies to control pests.
In order to efficiently scout your fields the following issues should be prioritised:
- Training scouts
- Map out your farms and fields (using drone and satellite data)
- Create inspection sites (paths for scouts)
- Create a scout procedure
- Record the scout data
- Interpret the scout data
It is important to examine all parts of the plant parts where pests are most likely to be found (for example, whiteflies will most likely be found on the underside of the leaves while thrips will most likely be found on young leaves). It is also important to know which insects or diseases a crop is most susceptible to in order to efficiently implement the best scouting technique.
Keep a record of your scouts with Aeroview
For most crops, scouting once a week is sufficient. However, you may want to scout more frequently with your high value crops as well as your crops that are more susceptible to being attacked by insects or diseases.
Within your Aeroview account, records of all of your scouts are kept, allowing you to create heat maps that can be used to map out and view the pressure of the pest/disease over time. This is useful as it becomes a historical timeline that the scout will be able to look back on to better understand the reasons behind the pests occurrence and predict the future. Frequently scouting your crops is the best insurance policy as it enables you to observe and recognise plant problems early, before they become uncontrollable and cause economic loss.
Aerobotics’ scouting app Aeroview Scout
Our mission is to make scouting extremely simple for farmers through the launch of a new scouting app Aeroview Scout. The app allows farmers and scouts to plan their scout routes before hand, allowing you to take the scouting app into the field while offline. Scout missions are then uploaded into Aeroview, our main data portal, where you are able to keep records of your scouts and download scout reports in the format that you need them in.
Sign up for a free Aeroview trial here.
Written by Devin Osborne