Madison, WI — A new smartphone application, ‘Sporecaster,’ is now available for free download on both Android and iOS devices, that helps soybean farmers manage white mold. The application aides in the decision-making process of whether or not to apply a fungicide based on custom disease risk calculations for your field. The application was developed by University of Wisconsin Integrated Pest and Crop Management program scientists and researchers, Damon Smith (Field Crops Extension Pathologist), Roger Schmidt (Nutrient and Pest Management Program) and Shawn Conley (Soybean Extension Agronomist). Support for the application also included the Wisconsin Soybean Association and the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board. The application was programmed by personnel in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Nutrient and Pest Management Program.
According to a press release from the University of Wisconsin Integrated Pest and Crop Management Program, “the purpose of the app is to assist farmers in making early season management decisions for white mold in soybean. The best time to spray fungicides for white mold is during flowering (R1 and R3 growth stages) when apothecia (small, mushroom-like structures) are present on the soil surface. Apothecia release spores which infect senescing soybean flowers, leading to the development of white mold.”
A collaborative effort among regional soybean disease researchers, the Sporecaster application uses compiled research to best predict risk of white mold to a crop. Research has indicated that “the appearance of apothecia can be predicted using weather data and a threshold of percent soybean canopy row closure in a field. Based on these predictions and crop phenology, site-specific risk values are generated for three scenarios (non-irrigated soybeans, soybeans planted on 15″ row-spacing and irrigated, or soybeans planted on 30″ row-spacing and irrigated).” The application works by prompting its user with questions about the forecast date, the presence of soybean flowers as well as row closure to generate a forecast with a white mold risk percentage, as well as a percent recommendation for spraying. The application also includes illustrations to help make the prompts easier to understand, as well as saves input data from multiple fields to fully assess the need for fungicide applications. According to test trials, the application has an accuracy rating of 81.8 percent, encompassing 60 test fields across Nebraska, Michigan and Wisconsin, making it a helpful tool in giving growers the most accurate and complete information possible when making crop management decisions.