The wide variety of pest control choices available to farmers can make it difficult to decide which products to choose.
Enter Chris Hawkins, who created an online pest control advisory service called AgChemExpert to make the decision a bit easier.
Hawkins, a pest control adviser from Oak Bluff, Man., with 12 years experience, hired a computer programmer to build the website based tool.
The system allows users to identify the crop they plan to plant and the pests they want to control. It then provides a summary of all the options available on the Prairies. Prices are included in many cases.
As well, users receive spraying tips, water advice, conversion calculators, industry phone numbers, internet links and resources and tutorials to help them get started.
Clients can save and print individual advice reports.
“I wanted something that people could use without getting that feeling that they might break it,” Hawkins said.
“I wanted them to be able to learn from it, too.”
Users can access additional information about products and applications by placing their cursor over the report items. This brings up an information box that contains detailed product information such as the chemical name, active ingredient amount and manufacturer.
When grassy and broadleaf weed combinations are identified, the system identifies the combination control products as well as the individual products for those weeds. This allows for greater decision making options or tank mixing.
The reports also include information about whether a surfactant is required for liquid products or if additions of ammonium sulfate can be made.
Found at www.agchemexpert.com, the system covers most prairie crops, with the exception of lentils, chickpeas, sunflowers, soybeans, dry beans and corn.
“It’s a beast,” Hawkins said.
“It evolves and grows and I’m constantly updating it. Corn, soybeans and dry beans are underway now and will soon be added.”
New products appear as they are approved by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency.
Hawkins said the tool gives producers and agronomists the opportunity to rapidly make decisions about products they might not have considered.
“To be honest, most producers, and even agronomists, like to go with what they know,” he said.
“And there are a lot of great new products out there, and some older options that they might get better control with, or save some money on.”
The design is mobile device friendly and works independently of the tablet, computer or smart phone on which it is running because it is internet-based.
Savvy Farmer from Guelph, Ont., is a similar product.
Hawkins’ service costs $299 for a year’s subscription and includes a 30 minute, full featured trial available on the website.