Text service to aid in farm crop production

by George Jared ([email protected]) 225 views 

Farmers utilize a lot of tools and services to optimize field production and yields. The latest implement that might maximize their crop performances is a cell phone.

Earlier this week, specialists launched the Extension Row Crop Text Message Update service enabling subscribers to receive just-in-time information about crop production needs.

Within the first few hours, more than 150 subscribers had signed up from Arkansas, Texas and Mississippi. Within 24 hours, that number had tripled.

There is no cost for the service, but messaging and data rates may apply depending on carrier or contract, said Tommy Butts, extension weed scientist with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

To sign up for the service, text one of the following keywords to 69922. Those keywords include: cotton, rice, soil, sorghum, soybeans, weeds, wheat, and fieldcorn, which is texted as one word.

Users may sign up for as many subjects as they’d like, but they need to send separate text messages with each keyword. To opt out, simply reply STOP to cancel. Text HELP if assistance with the messages is needed.

“We recommend saving 69922 as a contact in your phone,” Butts said.

The system also allows two-way communication.

“If you ever have a question regarding a message sent, you can reply directly to the text message,” he said. “The responses will only be visible to the extension specialists and we will reply on a one-on-one personal basis.”

The specialists see texting as the quickest way to get information to growers. Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, has been using texts to keep growers, consultants, agents and others apprised of production situations. This new service expands that reach.

“Email is still an excellent form of contact, but we’d gotten some feedback that whether it’s a producer, consultant, specialist or county agent, email gets pretty cluttered,” he said. When it comes to getting information “texts jump to the top.”

“We are striving to be more and more timely,” Hardke said.

Butts said that for example, “Right now, burndown applications are going out. If all of a sudden the temperature cools off, the herbicide’s effect will cool off too. We would text a message that might say ‘temps are dropping, be careful with your herbicide application now.’”

Butts said his team can also send picture messages if it’s something “real specific, such as what damage from paraquat drift on rice looks like.”

Hardke said, the sooner growers and consultants have that information in making their decisions, the more likely they’ll be able to incorporate that into their operations.

For more information, contact Tommy Butts at [email protected]

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