Balance sheet, database, ledger, fertilizer. Which of these does not belong?
Trick question – they all belong and all are important to a farmer, but sometimes even farmers don’t realize just how important.
Farmers face a multitude of challenges every day, but record keeping is usually not the first one that comes to mind. Now, thanks to a team of researchers at University of Vermont (UVM), farmers have an easy-to-use tool that can help them save money and avoid potential fines.
GoCrop is a web-based mobile application that helps farmers efficiently manage specific farm information like soil, crop, and nutrient data. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and most state environmental laws require farmers to submit nutrient management plans, and GoCrop helps farmers meet those obligations.
After recognizing how time-consuming and difficult nutrient management record keeping could be—handwriting notes in the field and then transferring the information into a spreadsheet or database—the UVM team developed GoCrop with the help of a $394,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
The benefits that farmers could see from GoCrop include:
- Reducing nutrient runoff: GoCrop critically analyzes farms nutrient management plans. It calculates how much material should be applied to meet the nutrient needs of the crop and avoid the environmental issues of having too many nutrients in the fields.
- Saving time, money, and resources: Farmers can now plan and track the nutrients each field needs and when to apply them. This ultimately saves money by not using or over-applying chemicals or fertilizer.
- Increasing efficiency: Having all of their information in one system ensures farmers of rapid analyses and exact figures.
“This app is a seamless record keeping tool that manages information from a farmer’s smart phone to desktop. It can save farmers money by crediting manure and reducing commercial fertilizer applications, as well as improving the efficiency of irrigation systems,” said Mary Ann Rozum, NIFA national program leader for conservation and environmental issues.
The UVM team has also received an award of nearly $400,000 from NIFA to expand the application for use around the Northeast and California, to meet their unique soil conditions. In addition, the next version of GoCrop will include a mapping feature for grazing and pest management.
Through federal funding and leadership for research, education, and Cooperative Extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future.