New tool generates crop details and maps to give farmers a jump on crop protection

Crop scouting’s paperwork trail is drying up, replaced by digital footprints. Changing how farmers scout crops, Strider is a big-data platform aimed at management and spray optimization. Field information is collected by scouts, evaluated by crop consultants and put into practice by farmers—all at unprecedented speed.

Already in use on 2.4 million acres in Brazil, Strider made its debut in the U.S. in 2015 on 115 Texas farms. The platform provides real-time field access to all crop stages. “Customers save 15% to 20% on pesticide applications through precision data generated by Strider,” says Ed Siatti, vice president of sales for North America. “The system saves money and time, and builds sustainability.”

Crop scouts carry Strider-provided tablets into the field to gather pest, insect, disease and agronomic information. With no Internet connection required, data locations are mapped for those scouting. When scouts exit a field, all data is transferred via Wi-Fi to the Strider platform. Consultants and producers instantly get access to information generated through Strider: maps for insect pressure, plant stages and eventually drought stress.

Strider is a system to monitor pest populations and weed activity in order to get data to a producer as quickly as possible. Typically crop management reporting is paperwork-heavy. Strider eliminates the paperwork—everything is done and recorded on the tablet. “No more spreadsheets. The maps are online and tell you what action needs to be taken and where you’re losing money,” Siatti says.

Crop professionals are already doing what Strider is complementing: scouting fields and making daily decisions. The platform speeds up the entire process and enhances the data, says Kym Orrock, business development representative, Strider.

All data is stored in the platform and relayed to agronomists. Strider is not another tool for the sake of technology, Orrock emphasizes. “GPS location on all photos and data, and simple transfer to platform—it’s so easy and user friendly,” he says. “At the same time, it provides an incredible level of intricacy and depth of information, which is all accessible before a scout even returns to the farm office.”

Blayne Reed spent 15 years as a crop consultant before joining Texas A&M AgriLife Extension as the integrated pest management agent for Hale, Swisher and Floyd counties. He’s used numerous crop-scouting programs and says none have been overly practical—until Strider. Reed tested Strider in the fields of the Panhandle during the 2015 season and says the results have been remarkable.

He’s watched scouts ranging in age from college students to a 72-year-old quickly learn how to operate the program. “There were no major learning problems for any of them. It puts all the needed tools together very well, and the tech support goes above and beyond,” Reed says.

Strider enables a producer to walk in a scout’s footsteps through the field, Reed describes.“Producers can see who scouted given fields, what they found and when they found it, all in real time,” he says.

Strider is available nationwide through an annual contract and is in the process of adding an irrigation module to the platform.

To see the full interview, go to High-Tech Scouting.