Maintaining plant health through crop Scouting

On November 3, 2016 / By: Dylan Wear

Agriculture will always need crop scouting.  This has and will always remain true. “In general, each dollar invested in pesticide control returns about $4 in protected crops”(Pimentel, 1997).  Every field is different.  Field conditions are also different for every field during each part of the growing season.  We are coming out with and expanding our technology on a daily basis.  This does not take away the need for good management practices.  There are many things that need scouted for in row crops throughout the season.  These include but are not limited to pests, diseases and weeds.  I am going to tell you why each is important.

Scouting for pests

Pests can be a very troubling sign for farmers to see in their field.  It is important to scout regularly and across the whole field.  Looking for patterns and signs of damage through the field is the best bet.  When foliar damage or any pest damage is found in a row there’s a good chance it’s not just one plant.  Scouting the surrounding area for damage is of great importance at this point.  Many pests are not easy to spot, but the damage usually is.  Pests tend to come in from grass waterways or tree lines.  From there they can continue to expand until the problem is addressed.  If spotted quickly from consistent scouting the loss of yield can be minimal.  When addressed in a timely manner the amount of spray needed can be minimal to eradicate the problem as well.  edited

Scouting for diseases

Diseases are another problem in many fields across the nation.  When spotted quickly through scouting, the damage can be estimated.  Fungicide, when applied in a timely manner, can severely limit disease in corn and soybeans.  Diseases are usually easy to spot through a discoloration of the plants.  Yield can be affected severely when plants become overrun with any disease.  Scouting is the only way some infested areas can be spotted before the damage is too much.  Many times the problem areas are not right on the edges of the field.  Window scouting will not do you much good when the disease areas are in the middle of the field.  It is important to walk a path across the field that gives a good outlook of the whole field.  This can be done through walking a W or S pattern to cover all regions.

Scouting for weeds

Consistent scouting is very important when scouting for weeds.  The size of many weeds makes the difference of if they can be eradicated or not.  Once some weeds get to high, they become very difficult to kill.  An example of that is water hemp.  Water hemp is already becoming resistant to some herbicides but a tall water hemp plant is even more difficult to deal with.  Timing is also vary important in scouting for weeds.  Weekly scouting at an early growth stage can be pivotal.  This is when the plants are competing for space and resources at an incredible rate.  They will yield much lower when competing with a high percentage of weeds at an early stage.  Fields can very from one acre to the next.  It’s important to get a get overlook of the whole field when scouting for any weed pressure.

It is important for farmers to know what scouting can do for them.  Scouting can greatly increase your management practices on the farm.  Even if you do not want to scout on your own, there are many companies you can hire to do it for you.  Scouting will increase your knowledge of the plants health and environment. 

I am Dylan Wear.  I’m a senior at Western Illinois University majoring in Agriculture Science.  Spring of 2017 is when I’ll graduate.  My time at Western has been great, and I’m looking forward to moving on with my career in agriculture. 


2 thoughts on “Maintaining plant health through crop Scouting

  1. Janie Kuss

    I can relate to this on a personal level because I’ve crop scouted for the past two summers, and I totally agree with everything you’ve mentioned! Good article!


  2. dmartenson48

    Great post about crop scouting! After reading this I do however have a few questions regarding this. When do you recommend farmers to have their fields scouted? Also how often should this be done?


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