Crop protection is moving quickly into the new world of social media, thanks to a smart phone app that was introduced on the first day of the 2014 Beltwide Cotton Conferences.
The app, from a company called Agworld, allows cotton producers to crowd-source their crop protection options by reviewing what other cotton professionals have said about specific products. The idea, according to Agworld Vice President of Product and Marketing Zach Sheely, is very similar to social media sites like Yelp or Amazon, which allow users to review and rate products and share those reviews with others online.
“People have gone online to see ratings for a movie,” Sheely said. “Maybe you have a limited amount of time, so you want to see how good a movie is, and what your peers think about it. Our app is very similar. The idea was ‘Where are you going to seek information from researchers about those activities that are going on on the farm?’”
The idea for the Agworld app was spurred on by researchers at Cotton Incorporated, according to Sheely.
“Enter Cotton Incorporated. They thought, ‘Well, we work with great researchers, and we fund great research, so let’s provide a better and easier way to access that, both from a website and from your mobile device,” Sheely said.
Growers can visit the Agworld website to review the product first hand. There they are able to review pesticides based on how experts in the industry have rated them, as well as share their own experiences and rate products that they have used in the past.
Like Yelp or Amazon, the Agworld app utilizes a rating system based on stars – where five stars indicates the best possible rating for a product. The initial set of product ratings that appear on the site are from a collection of product reviews collected by Extension specialists in the Mid-South in 2012. The app’s creators and Cotton Incorporated representatives are hoping to supplement those ratings by soliciting input from regional entomology groups and other cotton specialists in the coming days and weeks.
“We hope to get growers and their consultants involved as well,” Sheely said. “These types of products tend to go viral once you get a handful of people using it and realizing how convenient and helpful it can be. We’re hoping to get more people involved quickly.”
For now, the app allows growers to review products based on what others have said about each product’s efficacy in their own specific region. As more reviews roll in, the app will allow product reviews to become more tailored and farm-specific.
“Hopefully, one day we’ll have it more fine-grained to review products by regions within a state – to differentiate, for instance, between the Mississippi Delta and Mississippi hills, and pull up the top four or five products, by pests, with use rates,” said Sheely.