It seems these days there is an app for about anything you can think of. Generally, in the agriculture world I have a hard time finding apps that are actually useful. There are a few for weather, but other than that I do not use too many apps and my phone is usually for communication purposes. However, I have been made aware of a new app with a real purpose that is available.
The Bean Cam app for either iPhone or Android is free and lets you use the camera on your phone to check bean stands. It will allow you to select a row width and then take a picture of the soybean stand.
Once the first picture is taken you then calibrate the count by doing a physical count of the area where the picture was taken. This was the trickiest part of the process—trying to decide which beans were in the picture and which were not. The camera seems to highlight only green plants and blacks out the rest of the picture. The trick I used to do this was to place a plant (weed or bean) between the rows and position that at the top of my picture and then cover beans with my feet and back up until I had full rows of beans on the camera between my boots and the plant at the top of the screen. Once the picture was taken I knew how many rows to count on either side of the marker plant as well as from my boots to it.
Once the first picture is calibrated the app does a good job of calculating beans captured in the pictures for the rest of the field. As you take more pictures it will calculate the average plants in each picture as well as estimate the population of the field. Off of those calculations it will also estimate percent of maximum yield if you were to keep the stand as well as if you were to replant to 140,000 seeds/acre. These numbers are all estimated.
Comparing this method to the method I have been using for years I seem to come up with a lighter count on the plants per acre than when I do a hand count. When I do a hand count I usually select from a longer area of the field rather than a 4’x5’ box. However, I believe using the old fashioned counting and then the app I would most likely come to the same conclusions when it comes to soybean replant situations.
Each soybean replant situation is different. It still comes down to proper field conditions and the blessing of great weather after planting thru harvest. With that said, I wish I would have known this app was available before soybean planting this spring and it will definitely be in my tool box moving forward.
Adam Day is a Certified Crop Advisor working with Northern Partners Cooperative in Ottawa, Illinois, as an Agronomy Account Manager. He works directly with growers on a daily basis, providing them with information and services to help them make decisions in their operations. His goal in working with farmers is to have a partnership to increase yield, profitability and sustainability.