Universally, respondents give positive reviews for the technology they are using, reporting that mobile devices and applications have enhanced and streamlined field operations at a minimal cost. Smart phones and tablets are relatively inexpensive, many applications are free or just a few dollars, connectivity and accuracy are improving all the time, and readers prefer the convenience of using a single, multi-purpose device.
Free Google services such as documents, spreadsheets, forms, messaging and mail are integrated, easy to use, and help users access, collect, and share information between the field and office. With the Google Drive mobile app users can enter field data directly to customizable forms and spreadsheets, which are stored locally on the device or synchronized automatically to “the cloud” (online). If creating new Google Doc isn’t feasible, mobile applications for basic cloud storage such as Dropbox allow any type of file to be archived online and synchronized to mobile devices, making reference information such as protocols and procedures, plant identification, treatment recommendations, maps, and just about anything available anywhere.
Cameras / Photopoints
Readers recommend: Re-Take
Most smart-phones and tablets come with high-resolution cameras for capturing still photos and video. With cloud storage and instant messaging, photo/video collections can be archived online and shared instantly. One reader highly recommends the app Re-Take, which features a transparent overlay so you can line-up a previous photograph while you capture a new one. Another reader says the ability to capture and instantly share photographs in the field has helped crew-members correctly identify plants.
GPS Navigation, Tracking, and Mapping
Built-in GPS capability is a standard for most devices. Survey respondents report accuracy comparable to stand-alone GPS units, though a good cellular signal is required. GPS applications help with navigating terrain, recording locations, tracking weed population size and distribution, logging application information, and supplementing location information for photographs and other data.
Safety, comfort, and Entertainment
For many users, smart-phones and tablets are a source of entertainment and convenience; mobile-device-toting invasive plant managers are no exception. Smart-phones provide communication and connection in the field (where there is service), and the ability to receive and monitor severe weather alerts and remain connected to “civilization” via telephone and text messaging can provide a sense of security for field crews. And when you grow weary of the sounds of the breeze in the trees, the trickle of a bubbling brook, or the sweet song of a chickadee, you can insert your ear-buds and rock-out. Please use caution when choosing to impair your ability to hear signs of impending danger or a cry for help from your fellow crew-member. A cell phone is not a replacement for careful planning and exercising good-judgment in the field.
Identification Tools and Control Recommendations
Designed to assist with making weed control solution decisions for nutrient-robbing weeds and brush—allowing grasses to thrive. Along with product details, the app contains a weed identification component to help get specific herbicide solutions based on various situations.
An information resource specifically designed to help make more informed decisions for the control of woody weeds. It contains information for weed identification, critical control times, different application methods plus new and existing herbicide recommendations for many woody weed species.
Created by the Penton Farm Progress Group this app contains information and images of about 75 of the most common weeds, and enables users to narrow the list by crop, season and location. Users can compare on the spot, or use the app’s camera integration feature to take and upload photos of suspect weeds to identify later. Available for both Apple and Android, the app is free. Learn more here.
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(2013 Online Survey, 10 respondents)