Soybean School: Crop scouting with SWAT CAM

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Could cameras mounted on sprayer booms help revolutionize crop scouting, stand assessment and the gathering of crop management information?

On this episode of RealAgriculture Soybean School, we ride along with the SWAT Cam to learn how these sprayer-mounted cameras scout fields and gather information agronomists and growers can utilize to make crop management decisions.

Agronomist Deb Campbell from Agronomy Advantage joins host Bernard Tobin for a look at one of the first SWAT Cams working fields in Ontario.

Soil, water and topography maps — more commonly know as SWAT Maps — are becoming a familiar management tool growers use for variable rate seeding and fertilizer application. In the video, Campbell illustrates how the SWAT Cam can be used to capture stand counts, distinguish between plants and weeds, calculate biomass and canopy cover, and summarize crop and weed growth by SWAT zone.

Campbell says she’s not going to replace her human crop scouts just yet but the picture quality, and the ability to zoom in and identify weeds, provides some intriguing possibilities. (Story continues after the video.)

Campbell says the SWAT Cam is pretty seamless and easy to operate. Two cameras are mounted on the sprayer booms and are powered to the key — when the machine starts the cameras begin operating. “As soon as a sprayer pulls into a SWAT Map field and crosses that boundary line, it picks up that it should be recording and away it goes — the operator doesn’t have to do anything.”

This year, Campbell is working with clients, focusing on how the SWAT Cam can perform stand counts and gather information to fine tune planters and air seeders. She will also use the data for nitrogen applications as well as fungicide management decisions.

Emergence and seed mortality data will be used to adjust seeding rates for future crops to reflect individual SWAT zones. “There are lots of different ways to use this in the future to right size, correct and improve our scripts,” she notes.

Tap here for more Soybean School videos.

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Soybean School (view all)Season 12 (2023) Episode 14
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