Field-specific weed management solutions could be a mouse click away with WeedSOFT. The software program offers on-site weed control advice via laptop computer with recently introduced state-specific software versions for Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
The software offers a bottom-line approach to weed control, says Alex Martin, a University of Nebraska weed scientist who helped develop the program.
WeedSOFT considers economic, regulatory and environmental factors when recommending treatment options. The program features a yield loss estimator, weed image library and groundwater contamination risk calculator.
Users input data such as present weed species and density, soil properties, rotations, realistic crop yields and prices for the area. WeedSOFT ranks potential management strategies based on economic return, ruling out any treatments that wouldn't be appropriate due to environmental or regulatory restrictions.
WeedSOFT's recommendations can help growers reduce costs and herbicide use. A six-state survey by the University of Nebraska found WeedSOFT accounts for about $13 million annually in reduced costs and increased earnings for users, according to a September 2003 Research Nebraska article.
With its emphasis on economic thresholds, the program can be a valuable tool for growers, says Nickerson, NE, farmer Jerry Mulliken. He's used WeedSOFT for more than 10 years in his consulting business, JM Crop Consulting. The software's economic treatment analysis and environmental maps have been especially useful, he says.
WeedSOFT also helps users avoid costly mistakes like applying herbicide at the wrong growth stage, says Chris Boerboom, a University of Wisconsin weed scientist who helped with the software's state adaptations. The software helps minimize rotational herbicide carryover problems, he adds.
“It provides a lot of information in one place about herbicide efficacy, and it does a good job evaluating the return of any one treatment you might want to use in a situation,” Mulliken says.
New features are added annually, Martin adds. Cost for the 2004 software runs about $50. Visit http://weedsoft.unl.edu for more information.