Crop Disease Application – Frank Henry

Crop Disease Application – Frank Henry


I’m a plant pathologist and resistance is
our main form of control for a lot of the diseases; and each year we publish our resistance
ratings in a paper guide and in a Victorian Winter Crop Summary. But we got sick of carrying
around lots of books and stuff in the back of the car and it just seemed like a great
idea to be able to look up the disease resistance ratings for crop varieties on your iPhone
you know. And so we took that to the next step and actually developed an app so we could
do it. It has a lot of information about crops and
has a lot information about diseases. The main selling point is that it’s got the resistance
ratings for all the commonly grown crop varieties that we have in Victoria. It’s also got images
of the diseases that people would be looking at in the paddock. And you can also compare
the disease resistance ratings for a number of different varieties and if you’re not sure
what the disease is, you can take a photo with the iPhone or your iPad and you can mail
it to your agronomist and let him identify it. These are our disease screening nurseries,
we’ve got three bays of about 20,000 plants. We screen all of these for rusts three times
a year and it’s the rust resistance ratings that we get from these nurseries that go into
the crop disease app. We had some really positive feedback and some
quite interesting comments. One agronomist was telling me that his farmers were actually
sending photos of different amounts of rust on the plants so we could give them a recommendation
on maybe fungicide control based on the amount of rust on those plants. And we had another
interesting bit of feedback – I did a talk for some Longerenong students and apparently
one of them used it … the app in an interview when she was asked you know how would she
control this disease? And she just pulled out her phone and said she’d use the crop
disease app and apparently she got the job so that was pretty good! It’s pretty amazing actually. I’m not a real
IT type person so it’s been a big learning curve and we’ve worked with the developers
in Melbourne. And to have it actually up there in cyberspace or whatever it is, it’s been
fantastic. And the trick then is to keep it up there!

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