Tech Savvy Farmers
- By Lisa Rathke
WESTFORD — A new cyber tool that helps map crops and monitor irrigation systems came to life after a University of Vermont researcher realized farmers just weren’t very good at keeping records.
“They would guess a lot,” said Heather Darby, an agronomist from the University of Vermont Extension. “Or they’d write it down on little scrap pieces of paper or cigarette packs, like anything they had laying around they’d write it on, and then they’d show up for class, and we’d try to decipher all these little notes.”
Noticing that farmers had grown accustomed to carrying cellphones, whether in the field, on tractors or in the barn, she developed the goCrop Web and mobile app. The project was awarded about $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture this spring to expand the app for use around the Northeast and California, where soil conditions are different, and add functions for mapping, grazing and pest management. Full story