Usually when a crop grows, at some point, there will always a chance that the plant might be attacked by pathogens or insects which might result to losses and eventually lower yields – if they are not detected at the right time. Crop scouting is a preventive measure that every farmer ought to practice.
In the earlier days, crop scouting was a matter of how long or how much time have you spent in the fields. The longer you stayed there, the better the chances of not missing the non-performing areas of the field. With the help of technology, scouting has been made easier and more efficient. This ranges from simple notes or images or using a full-scale farm management system.
Things to remember when scouting your field.
To be efficient and effective regarding the time invested in scouting your crop, you should be organized and methodical. Research showed that 73% of the 196 people that were surveyed said they scouted their fields weekly. Of those, only 9% checked their fields daily. For a farmer with hundreds of acres, daily scouting is not physically practical and probably not the best use of limited time. Scouting your farm every 8 to 10 days is enough if you treat every trip to your field with the seriousness it deserves.
Make sure you use a zigzag pattern approach when scouting ten crops or plants in 10 different parts of the field. This is an extremely efficient method to approach scouting. By not walking through every row, you can invest more time in each section so that you can thoroughly inspect the soils, plants, etc. When you’re done, you will have an excellent estimate for the average condition of the planted crops in the field which will make you have the most accurate treatment decisions.
Get a positive I.D. on all insects
If you detect a pest or insect problem, the first step is to identify the pest positively. Some of the insects attacking crops look very similar. If you are not confident of your findings, contact a soil specialist to help give you a second opinion. Investing your half an hour to get a second opinion or identify the type of insect could save you the cost of applying costly insecticides that would have been avoided and, in the worst case; it may not even treat the problem that is truly present in the field.