The number of scouting applications in the app store is growing all the time. The options seem to be endless, but many do not differentiate themselves in any way beyond name. So what is key to keep in mind before committing to an app or data management platform and throwing away the excel spreadsheet or note pad? Here are a few things to look for:

Software integration options

As a farmer you have a number of service providers; from your equipment dealer, to crop input retailer to independent agronomist. The strongest scouting app options are going to allow you to integrate your existing data with the  information and observations that all of these different outlets are providing to you. Having the ability to pull this all together creates a synergy and eliminates confusion. The right scouting app should create efficiencies, saving you time.

Year over year data aggregation

Scouting your fields is an extremely important practice to do in season, but our memories aren’t always reliable over the long term. We need to capture information while it is fresh in our mind so it can be applied to the larger view of risks and opportunities on the farm.  While the buzz phrase in agriculture right now is “big data”, it’s usually the small things that add up to significant gains. So first of all, make sure you choose an app that’s easy for everyone on your team to use.  Second, look for something that ties into your primary data platform so your scouting records can be applied to other aspects of the farm, like rotation planning, budgeting or in-season applications. Collecting the information now and having it be available for strategic use from that point forward is going to be the cornerstone of making better decisions for your operation in the years to come.

Creates opportunities to be proactive

Taking action on potential issues in the field requires the right information at the right time.  Choose a scouting app with built-in communication channels, alerts and report-sharing features to help ensure a quick response to time-sensitive issues such as disease and pests.  Also, consider choosing a scouting app that alerts you to known agronomic issues in your area.  This will give you the opportunity to line up product, custom options or man power to address potential disease and pests before it is too late.

Don’t get left in the dust! Utilizing the capabilities of a mobile or cloud-based scouting app is table stakes in the realm of agriculture. Choosing a scouting app that encompasses all of the above is going to help make your operation more efficient and ultimately lead to more profitable decisions.

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